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Sunday, September 4, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

EU oil embargo on Syria seen impacting Britain, France

LONDON — After weeks of review, the European Union has decided to impose an oil embargo on Syria.


The EU said it would impose a ban on the import of Syrian oil to the 27-nation bloc, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the measure would affect Britain and France, the leading clients of Syria's energy sector.

"The prohibition concerns purchase, import and transport of oil and other petroleum products from Syria," the EU said on Sept. 2. "No financial or insurance services may be provided for such transactions."

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The announcement ended weeks of debate by EU members regarding an energy boycott of Syria. The EU decision did not prevent British or other European contractors from continuing energy projects for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Syria has been producing about 380,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Most of the Syrian exports of 150,000 barrels per day were destined to EU states, including France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

In August, the United States imposed an oil embargo on Damascus. The U.S. move went beyond that of the EU and also banned investments in Syria.

Britain has helped develop Syria's energy sector. Britain's Gulfsands Petroleum has been searching for oil and natural gas in several areas of the Arab country amid the Sunni revolt.

The EU also said it would maintain its arms embargo on the Assad regime. Several European states, particularly Britain and France, were reported to have sold light weapons and technology to Syria's military and security forces.

"The arms embargo imposed on Syria on May 9 continues to remain in place," the EU said.

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