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EU plans ban on new investment in Syrian oil

EU to ban new investments in Syria oil sector; Hopes for long-term impact on Assad's access to cash

September 14, 2011 12:27 by

European Union governments reached a preliminary agreement on Tuesday to ban European companies from making new investments in Syrian oil exploration, production and refining industries, EU diplomats said.

Pending final approval, the latest round of Europe’s economic sanctions against the government of President Bashar al-Assad could go into effect next week, they said.

“The goal is to strike the regime’s access to funds in the long term,” one EU diplomat said.

European governments pushed strongly in recent weeks to step up economic pressure on Assad in hope of ending six months of violence against anti-government demonstrators.

New sanctions would ban European companies from creating new joint ventures with enterprises in Syria’s energy sector, giving them loans as well as buying and extending stakes in Syrian companies, diplomats said.

They will complement a ban on importing Syrian crude that’s already in place and asset freezes targeting several Syrian companies and entities. The EU has also imposed a travel ban and an asset freezes against Syrian officials involved in the crackdown.

More discussions are scheduled in Brussels this week on further measures against Syria, which include banning European firms from doing business with additional Syrian companies. The EU may also prohibit exports of Syrian bank notes printed in European countries, diplomats said.

European companies are watching the talks closely. Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Total , among others, have significant investments in Syria.

The United States has imposed more wide-reaching sanctions against Syria. (Reporting by Justyna Pawlak and Julien Toyer)

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