Total suspends Syria operations in line with EU sanctions

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French oil company Total said Monday it was suspending its operations in Syria in line with EU sanctions, which indirectly target its local partner.

"We have informed the Syrian authorities of our decision to halt our operations with GPC (General Petroleum Corporation) in order to comply with sanctions," the company said in a statement.

It added the suspension included operations at Deir Ez Zor as well as its contract with Tabiyeh Gas.

"Our main priority remains the security of its employees," it added.

Total, along with Royal Dutch Shell which said Friday suspending its operations, are the two leading foreign oil companies operating in Syria.

The EU last week tightened sanctions on Syria to add pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to halt months of deadly violence against protesters.

The EU now has sanctions on around 120 Syrian individuals and companies and is already enforcing an arms embargo and a ban on imports of Syrian crude oil, along with import of oil and gas equipment.

Total's main Syrian partner Deir Ez Zor Petroleum Company (DEZPC) is not directly on the EU black list, but the Syrian state-owned company GPC which handles exports owns a 50 percent stake in DEZPC.

According to an industry expert in Damascus, Syria's oil output has collapsed from 340,000 barrels per day to 120,000 bpd due to the narrowing of export outlets.

Total said its Syrian production averaged 39,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent.

© 2011 AFP

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