Damascus | The arrival in Syria of an oil shipment has been delayed by the obstruction of the Suez Canal, authorities in Damascus said on Saturday, warning that they are currently “rationing” the distribution of fuel reserves to avoid any shortages.
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Syria, at war since 2011 and facing a serious economic crisis, announced in mid-March an increase of more than 50% in the price of gasoline, against the backdrop of severe fuel shortages that were already forcing the authorities to control the quantities distributed.
The suspension of navigation on the Suez Canal “has had an impact on oil imports from Syria and delayed the arrival of a ship carrying oil and petroleum products,” the Syrian Ministry of Petroleum Resources announced on Saturday. and minerals in a press release.
Since Tuesday, a huge container ship has been stuck across the canal, blocking traffic on this route which sees through about 10% of international maritime trade, according to experts.
While waiting for the return to normal, “the ministry is currently rationing the distribution of the quantities available in petroleum products (fuel oil, gasoline), to guarantee their availability as long as possible”, it is specified in the text.
The objective is also to “guarantee the continuity of essential services”, adds the ministry, citing in particular the functioning of bakeries and hospitals.
Questioned by state television, Minister Bassam Tahmé explained that the cargo was expected Friday at the port of Banias.
Recalling that Syria imports its fuel from Iran, an ally of the regime, he said that if the blockage of the Suez Canal persisted, the cargoes would have to pass through the Cape of Good Hope.
Before the war, the country enjoyed relative energy autonomy. But since the start of the conflict, Syria’s oil and gas sector has suffered significant losses, estimated at $ 91.5 billion.
The pre-war production level was around 400,000 barrels a day. It dropped to 89,000 barrels per day in 2020, including 80,000 in the Kurdish regions. It is in these areas beyond government control that more than 90% of Syria’s oil reserves are found.
Syria blames the economic crisis on Western sanctions, but also on the fallout from the economic collapse in neighboring Lebanon, long its financial lung.