Gulfsands cuts Syrian oil output as EU sanctions bite

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The Independent Online

Gulfsands petroleum announced its second substantial reduction in oil production in a fortnight yesterday as it reeled from sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and the EU.

The AIM-listed company, which mainly operates in the middle-eastern country, said Syria's government had told it to reduce its production by more than half, to 6,000 barrels a day. Last month it was told to cut it 40 per cent, to 14,547 a day.

Before the sanctions, Syria exported about 150,000 of the 350,000 barrels it produced each day. Some 95 per cent were shipped to the EU, most from the country's eastern ports on the Mediterranean Sea to Italy and Spain.

Syria uses most of the heavy, difficult-to-refine, oil it produces. However, it does not have sufficient capacity to refine it all, so much of the oil it exports is refined into petrol and diesel and imported back into Syria.

Syrians face significant shortages of oil-based products because of the sanctions, unless it can find other buyers to refine and re-sell it its oil.

Syria wants countries such as China and Russia to buy the country's oil, but it was inclear how much of it they would be willing to send back as refined products.