SEARCHING FOR OIL: Syria Casts Net Wide In Search Of Fuel Deals
Syria has been starved of diesel because the U.S. and EU sanctions have cut off its usual suppliers. Critics say outside suppliers may be helping Assad cling to power because they are providing households with basic fuel needs and so preventing a wider humanitarian crisis.
August 25, 2012 4:18 by Reuters
While it is not illegal for firms in the Middle East and Asia to deal with the Syrian authorities, many refuse to do so for fear of being associated with a government whose forces have killed thousands of civilians.
“There is a moral threshold to pass for some of the larger actors (while) … killing is ongoing. This is actually an important factor for the supermajors and many mid-size oil companies,” said Samuel Ciszuk, an analyst for KBC Energy Economics consultancy.
Syrian oil product imports virtually ground to halt after the national fuel distribution organisation was blacklisted by the European Union in March, cutting off its usual EU suppliers including Greece’s Naftomar and Monaco’s Galaxy Group.
Critics say outside suppliers may be helping Assad cling to power because they are providing households with basic fuel needs and so preventing a wider humanitarian crisis.
“Assad will benefit if Syria’s energy needs are somewhat met, it does make him marginally more viable in the short term,” said Ayham Kamel, a Middle East analyst at Eurasia group.
THE LONDON CONNECTION
Syria’s thirst for diesel extends beyond the needs of its army’s tanks. Industry and agriculture have been brought almost to a standstill because there is no fuel to power machinery.
One document shows an oil firm with a London billing address – Aurora Finans Limited – hired a vessel from energy company Mar-Link Offshore Services (MLOS) in July to ship 200,000 tonnes of diesel to government-controlled Syria.