Oil & Gas

On the eve of the Syrian conflict, half a dozen Western oil companies were active in Syria. Among these, Royal Dutch Shell and Total E&P, were the major players. However, the country’s descent into chaos and the subsequent imposition of Western sanctions on the oil sector led to the freezing of their activities. By the end of 2012, all Western companies had suspended their operations in Syria, declaring force majeure and freezing their assets.
In the third quarter (Q3) of 2023, Iran oil shipments to Syria remained stable, registering a slight decrease compared to the previous quarter, but in line with the general upward trend in recent years.
The Syrian government recently inaugurated a new gas well in Palmyra that will help narrow the gap between supply and demand. It is the second such gas well to start production in recent months. Meanwhile, the government has contracted an otherwise little known company to invest in various oil and gas fields in Palmyra and around Deir-ez-Zor.
Iran's crude oil exports to Syria appear to have remained high in the first quarter of 2023. Oil supplies in Q4, 2022 and Q1, 2023 were actually higher than in any quarter in the previous two-and-a-half years, which means that the reasons behind the shortages in previous months are still unclear. 
Iran may be putting harsher conditions on its supplies of crude oil to Syria. A recent report has suggested that Tehran has doubled the price at which it sells its oil and that it is now requiring Damascus to pay in cash; these two measures would have a significant fiscal impact on the Syrian government. The reasons behind this policy move are unclear.
The Syrian government has been seeking to increase phosphate production and export as it starts excavating a new mine near Palmyra and renews a barter deal with Belarus.
Syrian and Russian officials recently discussed joint energy projects at two events in Moscow and Damascus. Though little new information was revealed about the status of these projects, both officials acknowledged that they face difficulties.