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Seizure of Iranian Oil-Laden Tanker Troubles Syrians in Damascus

Seizure of Iranian Oil-Laden Tanker Troubles Syrians in Damascus

Sunday, 7 July, 2019 - 13:30
A helicopter hovers near the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defence, in a night vision photograph released July 4, 2019. British Royal Marines seized the Grace 1 tanker on Thursday for trying to take oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. MoD/Handout via REUTERS
Damascus- Asharq Al-Awsat

The seizure of a Panamanian-flagged supertanker laden with Iranian oil by Royal Marines off the British territory of Gibraltar has spurred major anxieties among Syrians, especially those residing in the capital, Damascus.


A shortage in oil by-products has crippled power-plants feeding electric networks in Damascus and its surroundings, leaving citizens suffering from long-hours of blackouts.


Contrary to Syrian government officials statements saying that the oil and diesel crisis is over, official orders forcing fuel stations to ration out monthly amounts of gasoline and diesel at a subsidized price suggests that the crisis has been eased, but isn’t over.


“People are afraid,” one of the workers at a gas station north of Damascus, who requested anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat.


They tied the crisis to the recent capture of the oil tanker.


“Handouts supplied by the government are the same, but the government's stock during the war has been significantly lower, and perhaps this seized carrier was planned to arrive at a specific date,” they said, warning that depots of subsidized public oil could be a few days away from total depletion of supplies.


“As long as there are US and European sanctions slapped on the Syrian government, the crises of fuel, food, medicines ... will not end, and therefore the suffering of people will continue, if there is no government decision to get sanctions lifted,” a private company employee living in the Damascus countryside told Asharq Al-Awsat.


In late last month, the pro-regime Syrian newspaper Al-Watan reported that the state-owned oil company has sustained a total loss of $ 14.55 billion dollars over the course of the Syrian civil war.


This coincided with a nationwide shortfall in production, at an average rate of 2,000 bpd.


It is worth noting that Syria's pre-war production capacity was at 380,000 thousand bpd.


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