Syria’s crude oil reserves at the start of 2013 were 2.5 billion barrels — second only to Iraq in the eastern Mediterranean — according to the Oil & Gas Journal.

‘But after two and a half years of war,’ writes David Kashi in the International Business Times, ‘exploration is at a standstill.’

International oil companies once operating in Syria abandoned operations as violence escalated and Western sanctions on Syria’s energy sector were imposed.

But for the past year, only Russia continued helping the Assad regime develop Syria’s oil and gas resources.

‘U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, in testimony to Congress in March, said Russia’s support for Assad includes selling Syrian oil on world markets,’ Kashi said.

Syria’s shale oil deposits are estimated to range up to 50 billion tons, a Syrian government source said in 2010.

Influence over world supply and prices was in the news last month.

Saudi Arabia reportedly offered Russia a deal for coordinated crude oil production.

Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the head of Saudi Intelligence, approached Vladimir Putin about a joint Russia-Saudi strategy for oil production and price control, reports said.

In return, the Saudis asked Russia to sever links with the Assad regime.

An alliance between OPEC and Russia would cover 45 percent of global crude output.


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