Syrian businessman George Heswani has operated in Syria’s oil and gas sector since the 1990s but gained notoriety throughout the decade-long conflict due to his close association with Russia and his alleged role in brokering deals with the Islamic State on the Syrian government’s behalf. The businessman was most recently implicated in the Beirut port explosion of 2020.
Stroytransgaz, a Russian engineering and construction company, has become a major player in Syria’s economy over the past few years, expanding its pre-conflict activities and reaching into new sectors. It has won major contracts in the fields of phosphates, port management, and fertilisers, at times at the expense of Iranian competitors, and has grown into a major symbol of Russia’s growing economic and political sway in Syria.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources has inaugurated a gas field in Homs with an estimated reserve of 9 billion cubic meters of gas – the first field to be inaugurated since 2009. So far, the government has begun extracting gas from one well in the field but plans to put two others into operation by the end of the year.
A Russian oil company, which has been linked to a sanctioned Russian oligarch, has recently opened an office in Damascus. The company has been embroiled in Lebanese-Syrian maritime disputes after the government granted it exclusive rights to explore and drill for oil and gas in a block in the Mediterranean sea that apparently overlaps with Lebanese maritime areas.
Khodr Ali Taher, also known as Abou Ali Khodr, is a prominent Syrian businessman who grew increasingly influential in the last few years – an archetype of war profiteers in the country. In recent days, there have been several reports that Mr Taher has been arrested by the government or is on the run, highlighting the rapidly shifting allegiances and fragility of post-war business networks in Syria.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources has provided data on the country’s production of crude oil, petroleum products and phosphate last year.