Connect with us

News

RussiaFeed

Economy

POWER PLAY: Syria just gave Russia EXCLUSIVE rights to produce oil and gas

In the final ignominy of the West’s epic failure to depose Assad, they’ve not only lost the war – they’ve lost Syria’s resources

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

0 Views

To the victor belongs the spoils.

Forget about the tiresome mainstream media fiction that it was the United States that defeated ISIS.

Russia played an infinitely more prominent and decisive role in crushing the caliphate, which at the time was being funded and trained by the Obama White House for the sole purpose of removing Assad, and stealing Syria’s energy potential.

The keys to Syria’s oil and gas rights now appear to be going to Russia…the country that was invited, under international law, by the internationally recognized government of Syria, to fight ISIS.

By Viktor Katona for Oilprice.com.

If finally happened…

In accordance with an energy cooperation framework agreement signed in late January, Russia will have exclusive rights to produce oil and gas in Syria.

The agreement goes significantly beyond that, stipulating the modalities of the rehabilitation of damaged rigs and infrastructure, energy advisory support, and training a new generation of Syrian oilmen. Still, the main international aspect and the key piece of this move is the final and unconditional consolidation of Russian interests in the Middle East.

Before the onset of the blood-drenched Civil War, Syrian oil production wavered around 380,000 barrels per day. It has declined for some time then, since its all-time peak production rate of 677,000 barrels per day in 2002. Although the Islamic State was allegedly driven underground, the current output still stands at a devastating 14–15,000 barrels per day.

As for gas, the production decline proved to be lower (it fell from 8 BCm/year to 3.5 BCm/year) due to its greater significance within the domestic economy. 90 percent of the produced gas in Syria was used for electricity production (as opposed to oil, which was either refined domestically or exported), and in view of this, the government took extra care to retake gas fields first as the prospects of reconquest became viable enough.Related: Tesla’s Powerpack: Real Hope Or Mostly Hype?

It’s an understatement to say that whoever takes over Syria’s energy sector will receive a desolate ruin. The country’s refineries need thorough reconstruction after their throughput capacity has halved from the pre-war level of 250,000 barrels per day. This task will most likely be carried out by Iranian companies, in accordance with agreements signed in September last year, which also involved the reconstruction of Syria’s damaged power grid. However, it remains unclear whether this project will go through, as Tehran counted upon an Iran-Venezuela-Syria consortium, which is all but feasible now against the background of Venezuela disintegrating, a new solution ought to be found. In any case, Tehran already got what it wanted in Syria as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard already secured the telecommunications sector.

Russia isn’t the only country that could have helped Syria to rebuild its oil and gas sector — as stated above, Iran could also lend a hand. However, Iran lacks the funds to invest heavily in Syria’s infrastructure — it needs foreign assistance to kickstart new projects at home aggravated by aging infrastructure and rapidly increasing demand. European companies are unlikely to get interested in Syria unless the EU embargo is lifted (in effect until June 1, 2018). Since the end of largescale military operations in Syria did not bring about a change of regime and Bashar al-Assad remains president of Syria, it would be surprising for Brussels not to prolong the sanctions regime (the U.S. will do it without a moment’s hesitation).

Sanctions-wise, Moscow is unafraid of any consequences for it is already under European and U.S. sanctions. With a long-range goal in mind, it could even assent to the significant cost of rebuilding Syria’s oil and gas sector — IMF put the expenses at $27 billion in 2015 but the current estimate lies most likely between $35–40 billion. This includes the totality of rigs, pipelines, pumping stations etc. to be repaired and put back into operation. In some areas, for instance, in the predominantly Kurdish-populated northern provinces with its heavy oil deposits, it’s unlikely to seize the opportunity. Moreover, it remains unclear what will happen to the fields (including Syria’s largest oil field, Al Omar) that were retaken by Western-backed militias, not the Syrian army.

Unfortunately for Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) which was forced to let go of the 100 kbpd Al Omar field because of the stringent sanctions regime, Damascus seems intent on consolidating the energy sector under the guidance of the national oil company, SPC. By means of political hand-wringing and the extension of Kurdish political rights within a united Syria, this goal can be achieved; however, the issue of selling the oil is just as acute as is its production.

Most of Syrian export-bound oil was destined to Europe, partly because of its geographic vicinity, and partly because European companies Shell and Total (NYSE:TOT) were the largest shareholders in the sector. This is no longer possible as long as the EU ban on Syrian oil exports stays in place. Thus, the new owner would have to find new market outlets, either by relying on adjacent countries like Turkey or Lebanon, or by finding buyers in Asia.

Interestingly, there has been little to no discussion so far on which company will have to take up the uneasy job of bringing Syria’s energy sector back to life. Throughout the war years, only the minuscule Soyuzneftegaz ventured into Syria (eventually relinquishing its prospects in 2015). Tatneft, a state-owned enterprise that develops Tatarstan’s oil and gas fields, is an obvious candidate since Syria (along with Libya, to their detriment) was their first attempt to internationalize their activities. Just as it girded itself for the commissioning of the Qishma oil field, full-scale war broke out and the company was forced to abandon it. Tatneft, Russia’s fifth-largest producer, is interested in returning to Syria once conditions allow for it. Beyond that, it’s still unclear if state majors (Rosneft, Gazprom Neft) would want to join in.

Taking control of gas fields seems a better (and more profitable) bet for Russia. If it manages to secure a fixed price, stable demand is guaranteed domestically, as gas will remain the dominant electricity generation input. Moreover, the continental shelf of the Eastern Mediterranean has yielded the likes of the Zohr, Leviathan and Aphrodite. Lebanon, whose sweetest spots are in-between Zohr and Leviathan, is also inching closer to tap into its assumed gas bounties.

Syria’s offshore potential is still shrouded in mystery, despite some seismic survey in late 2000s, most of the times one just hears allusions that it is as prolific as that of Israel, Egypt or Cyprus. An early USGS estimate put Syria’s potential offshore gas reserves at 24 TCf (700 BCm), more than double of its onshore gas, while its oil reserves at a “mere” 50 million tons, a sixth of its onshore oil reserves.

Syria’s proven reserves of 2.5 bln barrels (341 million tons) of oil and 10.1 TCf (285 BCm) of gas might seem meager compared to those of neighboring Iraq or allied Iran. Taking into consideration that one-third of its reserves are very heavy, viscous crudes, Damascus will have to sweeten the deal to bring in big Russian names — companies that can genuinely make an impact and not just take a chance. But geopolitically, it might be a wise move.

Russia has been keen on increasing its foothold in Iraqi Kurdistan (Rosneft, Gazprom Neft), tapping into Lebanon’s offshore gas (NOVATEK, and having a bigger say in Eastern Mediterranean affairs in general. For that, taking over Syria’s oil and gas sector might be a very powerful, non-military, tool.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

Latest

Putin, Trump meet in Helsinki for first bilateral summit

The Helsinki summit is the first ever full-fledged meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Their previous encounters were brief talks on the sidelines of the G20 and APEC summits in 2017.

Vladimir Rodzianko

Published

on

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are meeting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki for their first bilateral one-on-one meeting.

Trump arrived in the Finland capital a day early, while the jet of Putin, who wrapped up his nation’s hosting of the World Cup Sunday, touched down around 1 p.m. local time and the Russian president’s motorcade whisked him straight to the palace where the two world leaders are meeting.

Trump signed an August 2017 law imposing additional sanctions on Russia. The law bars Trump from easing many sanctions without Congress’ approval, but he can offer some relief without a nod from Congress.

Almost 700 Russian people and companies are under U.S. sanctions. Individuals face limits on their travel and freezes on at least some of their assets, while some top Russian state banks and companies, including oil and gas giants, are effectively barred from getting financing through U.S. banks and markets.

The agenda of the summit hasn’t been officially announced yet, though, the presidents are expected to discuss global crises, such as the Syrian conflict and Ukraine, as well as bilateral relations.

Stay tuned for updates…

Continue Reading

Latest

Peter Strzok testifies, reveals partisan warfare (VIDEO)

Partisan bickering main event as FBI Agent Peter Strzok is used as the pawn to prove legitimacy of RussiaGate investigation

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

Peter Strzok appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about his part in regards to the improper handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation and Robert Mueller’s RussiaGate investigation. The hearing was so contentious and partisan that it stalled at this point for quite a while.

Support The Duran – Browse our Shop >>

The Republicans went one way with this, and the Democrats went the other. All the while, Agent Strzok sat there as all this happened. Representative Bob Goodlatte was furious with the situation, as one can see.

Vox News reported on this as well, calling the event a “ridiculous circus.” 

FBI agent Peter Strzok’s testimony before Congress on Thursday collapsed into a full-on partisan circus, with Republican and Democratic members shouting at each other, House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte threatening to hold Strzok in contempt, and Democrats staging an over-the-top political stunt…

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Strzok exchanged a series of text messages with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair, that were critical of Trump. In one particularly controversial exchange, Page texted Strzok that she was worried Trump might win. “No. No, he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok reassured her.

Trump and many of his Republican allies have seized on these text messages as proof of anti-Trump bias in the FBI and to discredit the Mueller probe — the investigation Trump calls a “Rigged Witch Hunt.”

His appearance before a joint session of the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees on Thursday was the first time he had publicly testified before Congress since the revelations about his texts.

It was bound to be a contentious hearing — and so far, it has been.

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, immediately accused Reps. Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the chair of the House Oversight Committee, of deliberately trying to interfere with the special counsel investigation after Mueller obtained five guilty pleas from people associated with the Trump campaign in recent months.

And Cummings brought along some pretty spectacular signs to make the point.

As he spoke, Democratic staffers held huge signs with the names and photos of the five people affiliated with the Trump campaign who have already pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe: former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, London lawyer Alexander van der Zwaan, and Richard Pinedo, a California man who committed identity theft as part of the Russian election interference campaign.

Republicans first objected to the sign-holding, but seemed to back off when Democrats asked them to cite which rules the signs violated. The signs stayed up as Cummings listed what Flynn et al had pleaded guilty to and slammed Republicans for interfering with the advancement of the Trump-Russia probe.

As the hearing continued, lawmakers fought over what kinds of questions Strzok should be obligated to answer.

Gowdy’s very first question for Strzok — about how many witnesses he had interviewed in the opening days of Russia probesparked a huge debate. Strzok responded that he was not permitted to answer the question based on instructions from the FBI. Then Goodlatte threatened to hold Strzok in contempt for not answering the question.

“Mr. Strzok, you are under subpoena and are required to answer the question,” Goodlatte said.

Democratic lawmakers interrupted Goodlatte and objected loudly in defense of Strzok.

“This demand puts Mr. Strzok in an impossible position,” Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, responded. “If we have a problem with this policy we should take it up with the FBI, not badger Mr. Strzok.”

Strzok then asked to speak to the FBI general counsel before answering the question.

When Goodlatte responded that Strzok could only consult “with your own counsel,” that set off another testy exchange. Per CNN:

At one point, Strzok suggested that his removal from the special counsel’s Russia investigation was driven by optics. “It is not my understanding that he kicked me off because of any bias … it was done based on the appearance,” Strzok said, adding that he “didn’t appreciate” the way Gowdy was framing the issue.

Gowdy replied, “I don’t give a damn what you appreciate, Agent Strzok.”

“I don’t appreciate having an FBI agent with an unprecedented level of animus working on two major investigations during 2016,” Gowdy added.

The stakes are high here, which may explain the tense nature of the hearing. If Strzok’s defense of his past actions is received well by the public, he could potentially deal a serious blow to the power of right-wing narratives about FBI corruption.

But if he comes off looking bad it will do damage to the credibility of the Mueller probe — and Mueller’s ability to investigate the full extent of Trumpworld’s relationship with Russia.

Continue Reading

Latest

COLLUSION: Peter Strzok reveals THREE different versions of the ‘Trump Dossier’

FBI Special agent caught hiding fact of multiple versions of dossier during questioning by House Judiciary Committee

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

The salacious “Trump Dossier” that was spread as an amazing example of “fake news” being treated as real, received a further blow to its own credibility by none other than FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok on Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee hearing. Fox News notes that Mr. Strzok indicated that there was not one dossier, but three variations of this document – one held by Senator John McCain, a second by Mother Jones writer David Corn, and Fusion GPS owner Glenn Simpson.

Fox goes on to say:

Rudy Giuliani on Thursday slammed the “totally phony” Russia probe after anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok refused to identify the individuals who apparently handed the bureau three different copies of the salacious Trump dossier.

“Isn’t that called collusion or conspiracy to gin up a totally inappropriate, totally illegally wire based on national security? And doesn’t it taint the entire Russian probe?” Giuliani told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on “The Ingraham Angle.”

“That’s a disgrace, [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller should be ashamed of himself. Those Democrats trying to protect that liar, Strzok, should be ashamed of themselves. And every FBI agent I know wants to see this guy drummed out of the bureau,” he said.

Giuliani said the dossier led to fake news and the “national intelligence wiretap” of the Trump campaign officials.

“So how much of it is infecting the investigation today? We may never know, which is why I think the investigation is totally phony,” he added.

The inquiry into the dossier occurred during a fiery exchange earlier between Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Strzok, who appeared before a joint House committee about his role in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Jordan pressed Strzok about an email he sent to his colleagues, including FBI lawyer Lisa Page with whom he had an extramarital affair, indicating that he has seen different versions of the infamous Trump dossier from three different sources.

Jordan said he had the email the he sent to Page and several others with the subject: “BuzzFeed is about to accomplish the dossier.”

“It says this, ‘Comparing now the set is only identical to what (Sen. John) McCain had, parentheses, it has differences from what was given to us by (Mother Jones’ David) Corn and (Fusion GPS founder Glenn) Simpson.’ Did you write all that?” Jordan asked.

Strzok refused to answer and declined to confirm whether there were three copies of the dossier the FBI had its hands on, saying he can’t answer under the directive of the bureau.

Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Advertisement

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement
Advertisements
Advertisement
Advertisements

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!

The Duran Newsletter

Trending