Since the beginning of Syria’s civil war in 2011, supporters of President Bashar al-Assad’s government have often portrayed American involvement in the conflict as a plot – like Iraq, they allege – to steal Syria’s oil resources.

Naturally, the claim is absurd. Before the war, Syrian modest crude output was in freefall. Production had fallen to around 390,000 b/d – just enough for Syria to be a net liquids exporter – following a steady decline from its peak 610,000 b/d in 1995. Key Shell and Total-led development projects in eastern Syria were aging, leading to major output declines by 2010, and the Assad government was prioritizing the development of its natural gas reserves over oil resources. (CONTINUED - 1033 WORDS)