Syria’s Iranian Crude Imports Dwindle, But Data Suggests It’s Finding Other Sources

Iran has reduced its deliveries of crude oil to Syria since the lifting of sanctions. Refining data from the petroleum minister suggests Syria is getting crude from elsewhere – but the source is unclear.

Syria imported an average of almost 52,000 b/d of crude oil from Iran in 2015, but volumes have dwindled to an average of just 18,000 b/d since the end of February this year following the lifting of international sanctions on Iran in mid-January (MEES, 22 January).

Iran’s reduced deliveries of crude to Syria would appear to indicate that, given the choice of selling its crude for market prices – and Tehran faces major economic problems as it recovers from the economic impact of sanctions – or supplying cut-price barrels to political ally Syria, Iran has increasingly opted to take the cash.

Syria imported just three cargoes of Iranian crude over the six months to July – one 960,000-barrel cargo each in February and July, and one of 480,000 barrels in May, according to Reuters ship-tracking data (see chart). This compares with an average of almost 2mn barrels a month during 2015.


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