Syrian oil production has fallen sharply to 70,000 b/d from 380,000 b/d over two years ago as a result of sustained damage to the oil sector during the ongoing uprising and western sanctions on the export of oil, the Syrian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Sulaiman ‘Abbas, told the BBC. Mr ‘Abbas explained that oil, albeit minor volumes, from producing wells is being stolen, refined in primitive ways and transported to various areas, including Turkey. He also revealed that nine oil wells were torched in oil producing areas of Dair al-Zour province. Last October Syrian crude output averaged 153,000 b/d.

The minister noted that despite the disruption of crude deliveries to the Banias and Homs refineries, these were still operating at low capacity and were able to meet part of the demand for products in the country. He denied however reports that the government was sharing the crude output with Kurdish groups, which were protecting oil installations in the north east of the country. (CONTINUED - 324 WORDS)