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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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