Crude Oil Qualities in Syria

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Grades of Crude Oil

Syrian fields produce two different grades of crude oil, the "Souedieh" grade (or Syrian Heavy) and another lighter grade, known as "Syria Light", which is light and sweet and has similar characteristics to Libyan oil.[1][2]

The table below shows the characteristics of the two Syrian crudes:

Crude API Gravity Sulphur Content
Syria Light 38 0.68%
Souedieh 22-24 3.9%
[3]

Prior to the 1980s and discoveries of light crude around Deir Ezzor, the oil produced in Syria was of a heavy grade. However the discovery of large light crude fields at this time attracted international interest and several consortiums were formed, most significantly the Al Furat Petroleum Company.[4]

As of 2011, heavy oil accounted for around 60% of Syria's oil production[1] and oil exports from Syria were of the Soueidie grade, since local refineries needed the Syrian Light grade to process for products for the domestic market.[5]

Implications for Refining Infrastructure

A sulphurous or sour crude such as the Souedieh grade poses challenges when it comes to refining and puts serious demands on refining capacity.[6]

According to a report commissioned by the Syrian National Council, relatively few refineries around the world are adapted to handle crude grades as sour and heavy as the Syrian heavy grade.[5]The majority of refineries capable of refining heavy sour crude are located in the USA and the EU, however as of 2011 China was in the process of upgrading many refineries to be able to handle heavy crude.[6]

When it came to imposing sanctions on the Syrian regime in 2011, analysts in Europe believed that the heavy characteristics of Syrian crude meant that the EU boycott could have a significant impact in starving President Assad's regime of revenues. The bulk of the oil was being sent to Europe for refining and energy economist Robin Mills commented at the time that “I’m sure Syria could find someone else to sell it to, but with great difficulty, and at a heavy discount”.[7]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Syria" US Energy Information Administration, August 2011.
  2. "Walid Khadduri: The impact of boycotting Syrian oil" Al Arabiya, 28 August 2011.
  3. "Syria: the effect of EU oil sanctions on the economy and the Assad regime" Other Suns, 29 August 2011.
  4. "Syria Petroleum And Natural Gas" Cafe Syria, retrieved 7 March 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Assessment of Syrian Energy Sanctions" Syrian National Council, 23 November 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Syria: the effect of EU oil sanctions on the economy and the Assad regime" Other Suns, 29 August 2011.
  7. "Syrian rebels urge oil sanctions" Financial Times, 2 August 2011.

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