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Syria: regime raises fuel prices as private company sells oil derivatives

This picture taken shows a view of oil production facilities at the Omar oil field in the eastern Syrian Deir Ezzor province. [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images]
This picture taken shows a view of oil production facilities at the Omar oil field in the eastern Syrian Deir Ezzor province [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images]

The Ministry of Internal Trade in Syria announced on Monday that the price of diesel and petrol sold through BS Oil Services will increase by nearly 100 per cent. The increase will exacerbate the difficulties facing Syrian citizens in regime-held areas.

The ministry said that industrial and commercial diesel will be sold at 5,400 Syrian pounds per litre, up from 2,500 Syrian pounds, while petrol will be sold at 4,900 Syrian pounds per litre. It noted that the price of fuel distributed through the state-owned SADCOP will remain at 2,500 Syrian pounds per litre.

Ayman from Damascus fears that the government will give up another vital service to the private sector, just as it had done recently by entrusting the distribution of electricity to private companies. Asking for anonymity, he added that the Syrians have become accustomed to the "government's schemes", where before every "living disaster and price hike, we live with shortages and deprivation in order for us to accept the new price."

He also expects the prices of bread and fuel distributed by the state-owned company to increase as well, after the public and industrialists accepted the new price imposed by BS Oil Services.

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Syrian economist Osama Qadi described the government's decision as "legitimation of the work of fuel and crises merchants." He questioned the source of the oil imported by the private company.

Qadi, who is also the head of the Syrian Economy Working Group, added that BS Oil Services, which is licensed in Lebanon, is affiliated with the Katerji International Group owned by Hussam Katerji, who has close ties with the Syrian regime.

Katerji International Group draws oil from areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and imports crude oil and refines it in Baniyas and Homs in exchange for benefits paid to the Syrian government. It sells fuel to the private sector in Syria at a higher price than the official price.

According to Qadi, the company which works for Bashar Al-Assad and is managed by his wife, Asma, also has partners within the SDF, including Ali Sher and Abu Dalo. They control most of north-east Syria's oil, the production of which exceeds 90,000 barrels per day.

Syria suffers from a severe fuel shortage. Since the uprising started in 2011, the country has been transformed from a state producing about 380,000 barrels per day to one which has to import more than 150,000 barrels per day.

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