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AFP

Syria pays out $500 mln in
oil subsidies, minister says

The Syrian government has doled out more than $500 million in oil subsidies over the past six months as its economy is devastated by war, the oil minister said on Wednesday.

 

Sleiman Abbas said the government has given out more than 12 billion Syrian pounds ($560 million) in subsidies to the oil sector in the first half of 2013, or nine percent of the state budget.

 

According to a statement obtained by AFP, the minister said Syria is currently producing 39,000 barrels of oil a day (bpd).

 

Before the start of the crisis in March 2011, it produced 380,000 bpd.

 

The government continues to subsidize petrol as well as electricity, rice, sugar and flour.

 

But because of the war, most of Syria's oil must be imported, mainly from Iran, President Bashar al-Assad's key regional ally.

 

In June, Abbas said the state was spending $500 million a month importing oil products.

 

Late last month, Iran opened up a credit line for $3.6 billion, to provide Damascus with its oil needs.

 

Syria's oil industry has lost some $6 billion since March 2011.

 

Most oil installations are in areas now under rebel, jihadist or Kurdish control.

 

Abbas also said gas production currently stands at 16.7 million cubic meters a day, just over half the 30 million m3 a day produced before the conflict began.

 

More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since the revolt broke out 28 months ago, devastating the economy.

The government continues to subsidize petrol as well as electricity, rice, sugar and flour.