Largest Oil Field Falls to Opposition, Escalates Resources War

The opposition and Kurdish forces now control most of the oil and gas production in Syria

Syrian opposition fighters took control over one of the largest oil fields in the north- east of the country Saturday, while elsewhere, combat battalions targeted Homs with grad missiles, as part of a struggle to control energy production in the country.

 

Since the end of 2011, the opposition has seized most of the oil and gas fields in the country, where oil production has fallen from about 400,000 barrels per day to 20,000 barrels. Gas meanwhile has fallen from 30 million cubic meters to 15 million per day.

 

The Syrian General Petroleum Corporation estimates that direct and indirect losses in the oil sector are about $17.7 billion.

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that "fighters from the Nusra Front and Islamic Brigades fighters seized full control over the al-Omar oil field in Deir Al-Zor in northeastern Syria after clashes with regime troops,” adding that the Omar field is the largest and most important oil field in Syria, with an annual production capacity of 75,000 barrels per day.

 

Armed battalions had already seized control of the oil fields that belonging to Shell and Total companies in Deir al-Zor before their withdrawal because of European sanctions imposed in 2011. The battalions also took control over some fields in Al-Hassakah and Raqqa, near the border with Iraq, which means the control over about 113 oil wells.

 

Thus, the forces of the Syrian regime lost control of the oil fields in the north east of the country.

 

"The opposition fighters took control of  military vehicles and oil equipment, including seven tanks and ammunition," the Observatory reported.

 

Videos showed fighters roam at the main entrance of the field, with others driving a tank belonging to the regime after taking it.

 

The control of the fields comes after intense clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and the Nusra Front near a gas plant in Deir al-Zor.

 

Fighters with one of the local tribes pledged allegiance to ISIS and stormed the factory two days ago, also arresting members of the Shariah Committee that had previously seized the plant which is considered one of the largest institutions of gas production in the eastern region and feeds gas-powered electricity generating plants.

 

Since the control of the opposition on some oil wells, activist groups in the territories controlled by the opposition have begun to sell the oil on the black market.

 

Some other oil and gas wells are controlled by Fighters with the People's Protection Units of the Council of West Kurdistan (YPG) and the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD), led by Saleh Muslim, in the Kurdish areas in the north-east of the country. Thus, most oil and gas fields became under the control of the opposition and the Kurds.

 

Syrian authorities announced that the decline in oil production was due to "the deteriorating security situation in the oil field region and the attacks on them, as well as economic sanctions imposed by European countries and the United States on the import and export of oil".

 

Earlier this year, the European Union partially lifted sanctions on the oil sector, allowing the provision of funding sources for the opposition and connected the process with the approval of export from the Syrian National Coalition. The Syrian government said it considered this step "an act of aggression" and declared that it will use the "military force"to prevent it.

 

Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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