The Syrian government continues to subsidize petroleum products, despite the severe fall in oil production and the dire economic conditions in the war-torn country. According to Syrian Oil Minister Sulaiman al-‘Abbas, the government spent S£40bn ($268mn at the official exchange rate of $1=S£149) on energy subsidies in the first quarter of 2014; over $1bn on an annualized basis.

The minister estimates total losses in the hydrocarbons sector since the beginning of the uprising in March 2011 at S£3,202bn ($21.5bn) – S£2,700bn ($18.1bn) in indirect losses and S£502bn ($3.4bn) in direct losses, representing stolen or wasted oil and gas, as well as damaged infrastructure, installations, transmission systems and equipment. (CONTINUED - 324 WORDS)