Some perspectives on the recent gas fields liberated in Syria and their impact on the future economy of Syria:
From peak production in 2010, prior to the war of aggression against the Syrians, the natural gas production reached 8.9 million(M) cubic(cu) meters(mts) per day in Syria, and it has been in a free fall since then to 3.8M cu mts per day in 2016, 43% of the all time record (this is basically official production under the Government of Syria).
Just the mega Tuweinaan gas field, recently liberated in central Homs Province, mostly intact, will be able to produce 3.3M cu mts in 6 months time as per initial plan, which could be intensified so as to reach the milestone of 0.6M cu mts per day production in few weeks, then 1.1M cu mts per day in 2 months and full force in 6 months or 3.3M cu mts per day of natural gas, that would almost, alone, double the country’s 2016 production.
Together with Tuweinaan gas field, over two dozens of gas fields were also liberated in the past 2 months, though smaller in size and in production capacity versus Tuweinaan, the Syrian Government believes those liberated gas fields can reach the production level from 2010 in 6 to 12 months. The Palmyra area in central Syria is the site of much of this activity, including the recently liberated Arak gas field, which came on stream at the end of 1995. Other important gas fields in the Palmyra area include Al-Hayl (liberated) and Al Doubayaat (still under ISIS, but not for long) — both of which are “sweet gas” and two “sour gas” fields — and Najeeb (mostly liberated this past Sunday) and Sukhna (fully liberated), which came on stream in 2000. Most of these fields will likely enjoy expansions in output post-conflict.
The Syrian Government’s herculean effort, during the 7-year conflict, to pump as much gas from the fields that were kept safe under the control of the State, generated much higher output in those individual gas fields versus prior to 2010 output, which helped to minimize the loss in production with the majority of gas fields under the terrorists’ control. On top of that good performance, the newly liberated gas fields, when in full production, can be expected to produce over 10M cu mts per day sometime by 2018, which would by itself be an all-time record for the country and a much needed resource of power and heating.
It is important to note that it is yet to be seen whether brand new investments to extract natural gas from the shallow waters off the Mediterranean coast of Latakia and Tartous will be forthcoming. There are massive reserves ready for development which will be fairly cheap to extract due to the low depth water and the size of the reserves. These underwater gas fields are similar to those identified on the Lebanese and Palestinian coasts.
Syria was never a major oil player, but it produced more than its internal needs prior to the war of aggression against it. Syria produced some 400,000 barrels per day in 2010 (all time record of 600,000/day in 1996), exporting 30% of this volume to overseas customers.
Different from the natural gas production, the conflict severely affected the Syrian oil production (official), reducing it to a fraction of the 2010 level, 3% of it or 14,000 barrels a day. This number does not take into account the oil smuggled to Turkey/Iraq Kurdistan/Israel by ISIS or Al-Qaeda.
By far the major oil extraction is located in the Deir El-Zor Province, reaching 60%+ of the total 2010 production level, with ‘Umar field representing 80,000 barrels/day prior to the conflict, or 20% of national share. The oil found in Deir El-Zor back in the 1980s is the light-grade/low-sulphur oil, usually praised as high quality/value oil.
On the oil refinery side, Syria’s two oil refineries are located at Baniyas and Homs. Total refinery capacity from these refineries in 2004 was estimated at 239,865 bbl/d (132,725 bbl/d and 107,140 bbl/d, respectively). They survived intact the war of aggression against the Syrians, and this is going to be very important for the future of Syria. The two refineries are using imported oil at the moment, mostly from Russia and Iran.
Photo arquive: Baniyas Refinery
Photo arquive: Homs Refinery
It is clear that the liberation of all of Deir El-Zor’s oil fields will be vital for Syria’s recovery in 2018-2019 and will help bring new revenues from exports and most likely billions of Rubles, Dinars and Yuans in new construction projects and re-develpment of infrastructure.
In the next weeks the SAA and allies will be approaching the critical point when they will have to storm Deir El-Zor City and cross the Euphrates. This will be a game changer for the economy of Syria and long-awaited endgame for ISIS.
Attorney for 35 years and Supreme Court Certified Interpreter for Arabic/English
Diploma with Honors from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School in 1968; B.A. University of Michigan in Ann Arbor 1968-1972; M.A. University of Michigan Dept. of Near Eastern Studies 1972-1974; Ph.D. Cand. Univ. of Michigan 1972-1977; Then went to law school. Credits: Harvard University for classes in Islamic Philosophy; Fellowships from University of Pennsylvania 1976; 2 from Univ. of Michigan. Read English, Arabic, German, French, Farsi, some Hebrew. Studied Ancient Greek and Latin before grad school. Michigan Supreme Court Certified Interpreter/Translator for Arabic and English