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Syria's oil exports decline as output plummets

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-11-28 9:13:15

Syria's oil exports have dramatically plunged during the first quarter of 2013 as oil output is tumbling, said a recent economic report issued by the Syrian Cabinet.

The report, published by Tishrin newspaper on Wednesday, said oil exports dropped from 0.99 million barrels during the first quarter of 2012 to 0.66 million barrels during the first three months of 2013, a decrease by about 33.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the report said imports of oil derivatives have increased from around 170,000 tons during the fourth quarter of 2012 to around 433,600 tons during the first quarter of 2013, an increase by 155.2 percent.

The report said the value of oil and gas derivatives reached 844.25 million US dollars during the first quarter of 2012, while the value of crude oil imports and oil derivatives and clean gas reached 1,147.6 million dollars during the same period of 2013.

It indicated that there was a retreat in the output of crude oil from 1,229,100 tons during the fourth quarter of 2012 to around 772,540 tons during the first quarter of 2013, a decline by about 37.1 percent although some 2,553,800 tons of crude oil were produced during the first quarter of 2012.

Oil, the lifeline for the Syrian economy, is at risk as the main oil fields locate in rebel-held areas in northeast Syria and is erroneously used by gunmen, a report issued by the state's media said recently.

It said that 40,000 oil barrels were stolen on a daily basis, causing 1.4 billion dollars in direct material losses and 17.7 billion in indirect losses till the end of the third quarter of 2013.

Oil sector was a pillar of Syria's economy until the outbreak of events, with the country producing about 380,000 barrels and exporting around 130,000 barrels a day and put the rest in domestic use.

Oil was forming around 45 percent of Syria's total exports. In 2010, Syria's oil exports were estimated at three billion dollars. In 2013, Syria imported oil by 1.7 billion dollars, in a drive aimed to meet the people's need of oil derivations.

Syria also blamed the European Union (EU) economic sanctions for the retreat in oil's revenues. At the beginning of the crisis, the EU has slapped Syria with harsh economic sanctions including an embargo on purchasing or transporting Syrian oil and prohibiting companies from dealing with Syria or investing in it, in addition to withdrawing experts and staff, suspending funding and imposing sanctions on Syrian petroleum companies.

Wednesday's Cabinet report said there was a decline in the natural gas production from 2,020,800 cubic meters during the first quarter of 2012 to 1,558,760 cubic meters during the fourth quarter of 2013, a cut by about 22.9 percent though some 2,589,140 cubic meters of natural gas were produced during the first quarter of 2012.

As for non-oil trade exchange, the report said that there is an increase from 68 billion Syrian pounds (490 million dollars) during the fourth quarter of 2012 to 73 billion pounds (520 million dollars) during the first quarter of 2013, an increase by around 7.4 percent.

According to the same report, the indicators of the free zone showed a trade decline from 24.35 billion pounds (170 million) in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 4.33 billion pounds (30 million dollars) in the first quarter of 2013, a retreat by 82.2 percent, adding that the free zone's exports and imports dropped by about 83 percent during the first quarter of 2013 when compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.

In the meantime, the total revenues of the Syrian free zones raised from 120 million pounds (860 million dollars) during the fourth quarter of 2012 to 174 million (1.24 million dollars) in the first quarter of 2013, an increase of about 45 percent, though the revenues of free zones for the first quarter of 2012 amounted to about 133 million pounds (950,000 dollars).

The report attributed the spike to the improvement in the purchasing value of the Syrian pound against hard currencies.

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