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Chinese, UK Oil Firms Shut Down Operations in Syria

Two foreign oil firms close their Syria operations in response to EU sanctions imposed on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 12/13/2011, 12:15 AM

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Two foreign oil firms have closed operations in Syria in response to European Union sanctions imposed on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The national Chinese Sinochem and British Gulfsands Petroleum oil firms have both shut down, company spokespersons said.

The UK-listed Gulfsands is bound by the sanctions since the UK is part of the European Union.

And although China has opposed the United Nations' efforts to impose its own sanctions, Sinochem is also required to respect the EU sanctions. Its interest in the Syrian fields is tied up in the UK-listed Emerald Energy firm, through which it owns the assets.

Gulfsands said that it would retain a presence in Syria, even though it has shut down operations. Sinochem, however, declined to comment on the situation.

Syria still has its own oil-producing firm, General Petroleum Corporation (GPC), which is continuing to produce oil from fields in exploration block 26, according to a statement released from the company.

However, sanctions against trade with Syria have effectively cut off any real need for a flow of oil from the country, and there is already a serious problem with excess supplies. Cash that was expected from sales of the oil to other nations has been cut off due to the sanctions imposed by the EU, Turkey, the United States, Canada and the Arab League, tightening the economic lid on the Assad regime.