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Trump’s Syria ‘oil gambit’ is a crime, and what may be worse – a mistake

While Trump has not officially renounced the “Assad must go” policy of his predecessor, the pullout was supposed to be the end of it in practice. The sudden talk about Syrian oil fields, however, suggests that someone from the “swamp” managed to persuade the president to keep one foot in the endless foreign wars he has pledged to end.

“We want to keep the oil,” Trump said this week, to the confusion of everybody. Attempting to explain on Thursday, he said the oil fields were “held by [Islamic State] until the United States took them over with the help of the Kurds. We will NEVER let a reconstituted ISIS have those fields!”

Much has been made of Trump’s own comments from 2011 about the US seizing Iraqi oil as “reimbursement” for the 2003 invasion, but that does not appear to be the case here. Ironically, Trump has boasted recently about his administration making the US into a net exporter of oil and gas, so it does not need the Syrian oil.

Ditch the Kurds, grab the oil? Trump says US ‘never committed’ to Syrian allies.

The oil fields in question were traditionally used to meet domestic demands and are too small to be interesting to Washington in terms of profit.

Before the war, Syria made 387K barrels/day & sold 140K, accounting for 25.1% of state income. US/Kurdish areas in east (Omar, al-Shadadi, Suwayda fields) could today make at least 60K bpd.

Syria oil exports by destination country in 2010 (note that as of 2012, all countries on this chart no longer trade oil with Syria due to sanctions against the country).
Map of Syrian oil fields and pipelines.

US “securing the oil” is abt denying Syria recovery.

The petroleum industry in Syria forms a major part of the economy of Syria. According to the International Monetary Fund, before the Syrian Civil War, oil sales for 2010 were projected to generate $3.2 billion for the Syrian government and accounted for 25.1% of the state’s revenue.

Syria is a relatively small oil producer, that accounted for just 0.5% of the global production in 2010,] falling to less than 0.05% by 2016. Although Syria is not a major oil exporter by Middle Eastern standards, oil is a major component of the Syrian economy. Syria’s oil sector has been hit by the Civil War and international sanctions imposed on Syria.

Syria is the only significant crude oil producing country in the Eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories. According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Syria had 2,500,000,000 barrels (400,000,000 m3) of petroleum reserves as of 1 January 2010. Syria’s known oil reserves are mainly in the eastern part of the country in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate near its border with Iraq and along the Euphrates River, and a number of smaller fields are located in the center of the country. In 2010, Syria produced around 385,000 barrels (61,200 m3) per day of crude oil. Oil production has stabilized after falling for a number of years, and is poised to turn around as new fields come online. In 2008, Syria produced 5.3 billion cubic metres (1.9×1011 cu ft) of natural gas, and two years later in 2010, it increased production to 7.8×109 m3 (2.8×1011 cu ft). While much of its oil is exported to Europe, Syria’s natural gas is used in reinjection for enhanced oil recovery and for domestic electricity generation.

Although Syria produces relatively modest quantities of oil and gas, its location is strategic in terms of regional security and prospective energy transit routes. The first section of the Arab Gas Pipeline to enter Syria, totalling 600 kilometres (370 mi) through Syria, starts at the Jordan–Syria border in the south, connecting to Tishreen and  power stations. This was subsequently extended to connect to Deir Ammar power station in Lebanon and Baniyas in Syria. A further section was planned to continue up to the Turkish border, but the ongoing civil war is expected to further delay this connection.