Oil & Gas

Iran's oil exports to Syria in the second quarter of 2024 fell by 31 percent compared to the previous quarter, and by 55 percent on a year-on-year basis. Iranian crude oil exports to Syria are at their lowest level since late 2020.
Iran's oil exports to Syria decreased 27 percent in the first quarter of 2024 compared with the last quarter of 2023, and 24 percent on a year-on-year basis. In the last quarter of 2023, exports stood at 8.8 million barrels, an average of 95,938 bopd, while in the same quarter of last year they reached 9.1 million barrels, averaging 101,750 bopd. This quarter’s results are the lowest in two years, since Q2, 2022, when exports stood at 6.2 million barrels.
In a context where the industry lacks proper safety regulations and three-quarters of AANES revenues depend on oil production, business profitability comes at the expense of health and environmental rights. Since taking control of the oil fields in the northeast in 2018, the Syrian Democratic Forces have “contracted private businesses to run the oil fields in its territories to reduce operation costs,” and these actors rely on “primitive methods” to refine oil.
Iran’s oil shipments to Syria in 2023 surged by 21 percent compared to the previous year, according to data from United Against Nuclear Iran, a U.S.-based organisation tracking Iranian shipments and crude oil storage. In the last quarter of 2023, Iran’s crude oil exports to Syria amounted to approximately 7,686,822 barrels, averaging 83,552 barrels per day.
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.