News / Middle East

Syrian Rebels Eye EU Oil Trade

Syrian Rebels Eye EU Oil Tradei
X
April 30, 2013 8:20 PM
The European Union recently lifted the embargo on oil coming from opposition-controlled areas in Syria. But there are doubts about how quickly the rebels will be able to start trading with the EU. Meanwhile, ‘backyard' refineries are springing up as impoverished Syrians try to make some money. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Henry Ridgwell
The European Union recently lifted the embargo on oil coming from opposition-controlled areas in Syria. But there are doubts about how quickly the rebels will be able to start trading with the EU. Meanwhile, "backyard" refineries are springing up as impoverished Syrians try to make some money.

In his backyard north of the city of Idlib, Ahmed Abu Taleb and his friend use handpumps to transfer a barrel of crude oil into a tank.

A fire burns in a pit dug below the tank. Then drip by drip, through a simple system of pipes, the distilled products - fuel oil and diesel - empty into lined trenches nearby.

Few of the workers are trained. No one wears protective gear, and the fires burn next to tanks full of fuel. Abu Taleb said the risks are worth it. In 24 hours, he extracts nine barrels of fuel.

Taleb said he gets the crude oil from the freed areas, or from oil wells freed by the Free Syrian Army. He says it's used to provide gasoline to areas that need it. The makeshift gas stations, he said, provide a lifeline for local residents who struggle to heat their homes.

As the Syrian civil war has intensified, U.S. data indicates that oil production in the country more than halved between 2011 and 2012. That’s mainly due to EU sanctions, said David Butter of London-based policy institute Chatham House.

“The sanctions actually did stop production because foreign operators pulled out. Also the Syrian government didn’t really have anywhere to put the oil, it had limited capacity to put the oil through their refineries," Butter explained. "And limited storage capacity when their export options were cut off.”

In recent days, EU ministers lifted the embargo on oil coming from areas of Syria held by the opposition.

The EU’s foreign policy chief is Catherine Ashton. “Three types of transactions will now be possible: imports of oil and petroleum products, exports of key equipment and technology for the oil and gas industry and investments in the Syrian oil industry,” she said.

But David Butter of Chatham House says it will be a long time before the EU starts buying oil from the opposition. “Most of the oil is under the control of various other groups. Most notorious of course is Jabhat al-Nusra which has an al-Qaida connection, and many other groups. So there’s no sense that they are centrally controlled by an opposition body with which companies in the EU could actually do business with,” he added.

Syria has denounced the EU’s decision. Before the uprising, the IMF estimates oil exports accounted for a quarter of government revenue.

Abeed Mayaleh, governor of Syria's Central Bank, said he does not understand how the European Union can give what he calls armed terrorist groups the right to export oil to Europe. This is money laundering, he said. This is stolen money and these are stolen goods.

As Syria's economy continues to suffer, primitive refineries are springing up in backyards across the country: a dangerous business but a way to survive amid the conflict.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid