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A new U.S. military base has been built at the al-Omar oilfield in southeastern Deir Ezzor in Syria to support combat against the Syrian military, according to a new report by Fars News.
Russian forces have recently warned of a possible attack by U.S. forces on fortified Syrian bases. The U.S. military has dispatched weapons and other equipment to the Deir Ezzor area, including missiles, military vehicles, and bridge equipment.
Smaller U.S. bases on the Koniko and al-Jafreh oilfields are also getting new equipment. In the meantime, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) sent troops to Jiya, Salehiyeh, and al-Tabiyeh—all villages where the Syrian military already holds positions.
Russia is moving in on Syria’s hydrocarbon assets as American leadership in the Middle East wanes. In accordance with an energy cooperation framework agreement signed in late January, Russia will have exclusive rights to produce oil and gas in Syria. The agreement goes significantly beyond that, stipulating the modalities of the rehabilitation of damaged rigs and infrastructure, energy advisory support, and training a new generation of Syrian oilmen.
Before the onset of the civil war, Syrian oil production wavered around 380,000 barrels per day. This is down from its all-time peak production rate of 677,000 barrels per day in 2002. Although the Islamic State has been driven underground, the current output stands at just 14,000–15,000 barrels per day.
Sanctions-wise, Moscow is unafraid of any consequences because most of the hydrocarbon sector’s leadership is already under European and U.S. sanctions. With a long-range goal in mind, it could even assent to the significant cost of rebuilding Syria’s oil and gas sector. The International Monetary Fund put that expense at $27 billion in 2015, but the current estimate lies most likely between $35 billion–$40 billion.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…