Syria gives $500 mln to oil firms

Syria gives $500 mln to oil firms

DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
The Syrian government has doled out more than $500 million in oil subsidies over the past six months as its economy is devastated by war, the oil minister said on Aug. 7.

Sleiman Abbas said the government has given out more than 12 billion Syrian pounds ($560 million) in subsidies to the oil sector in the first half of 2013, or nine percent of the state budget.

According to a statement obtained by AFP, the minister said Syria is currently producing 39,000 barrels of oil a day (bpd).

Before the start of the crisis in March 2011, it produced 380,000 bpd. The government continues to subsidise petrol as well as electricity, rice, sugar and flour.

But because of the war, most of Syria’s oil must be imported, mainly from Iran, President Bashar al-Assad’s key regional ally. In June, Abbas said the state was spending $500 million a month importing oil products.