Shell supports Syrian regime with $55 million during crackdown; one out of six Syrian tanks runs on Shell oil

29 May 2011 admin

Today, a Shell-chartered tanker is scheduled to dock in the Syrian port of Tartous. The Heidmar TBN will collect almost 600,000 barrels of crude oil purchased by Shell. The shipment, worth over $55 million, has been marketed to Shell by state company Sytrol, an integral part of Assad’s regime of power.

Repression of the democratic uprising in Syria has seen the regime kill over 1,000 and imprison 10,000. Yet Shell, one of the largest foreign investors in Syria, continues its close co-operation with the Ba’ath regime – extracting oil, meeting with regime leaders, delivering crude to state refineries and purchasing crude exports.

PLATFORM is revealing Shell’s support for Assad’s dictatorship and the company’s reliance on his military & police apparatus. Highlights include:
* 17% of Syrian tanks – instrumental in the repression of the uprising – run on fuel derived from Shell crude.
* Continued revenues paid by Shell are helping bankroll Assad’s crackdown. PLATFORM estimates that 4-8 out of every 100 tanks used to repress opposition are financed through revenues from crude extracted by Shell and its partners.
* Democracy protests and strikes have spread across the oil-producing regions in the southeast and the oil export ports on the Mediterranean. Shell is only able to continue its operations in these regions because of the brutal state repression and extreme force used by military and paramilitary forces in crushing the popular uprising and placing the cities under siege.

PLATFORM Researcher Lorenzo Paluello said: “While the British and Syrian public believe that suppressing a mass democratic uprising with tanks is problematic, Shell continues to work hand in glove with the regime. The people of Syria are rising up for freedom, but this company has placed itself firmly on the side of corrupt dictators. While massacres take place on the streets, Shell relies on the regime’s violence to maintain the “stability” it desires. This is a stability which prioritises profits at the expense of freedom from torture and the right to life.”

The close relationship between Shell and the Syrian regime is clear from both Syrian government and Shell public statements:
* On April 29th 2011, Shell officials in Damascus were courted by Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar, who “stressed government’s support for the work of Shell” and promised to continued “providing the necessary facilities [to] contribute to strengthening its [Shell’s] role”. This was over a month into the uprising after hundreds of casualties and credible accounts of widespread torture. The regime was making sure to keep Shell, one of the largest foreign investors in Syria, close during the period of turmoil. Shell’s General Manager in Syria Graham Henley and Prime Minister Adel Safar reviewed activities and increased future co-operation and joint programmes.
* Shell’s Deputy General Manager in Syria has repeatedly praised the Syrian regime in terms that equate Assad’s regime with the Syrian people: “This success could not have been achieved without the strong partnerships that have been developed over the years between Shell and the Government of Syria. We believe that the relationship Shell has with the Government and the Syrian people is mutually beneficial.”
* Ongoing co-operation – since the uprising began – between Shell and the Syrian regime includes social programmes that “completes the work carried out by the Baath Vanguards Organization” – the youth wing of President Assad’s ruling Baath Party.

PLATFORM Campaigner Lorenzo Paluello said “While Cameron condemns Assad, he allows British corporate support for the brutal crackdown. By prioritising business interests and energy dominance over democracy and human rights,Britain’s foreign energy policy gives Shell and BP a green light to make deals with dictators and shut their eyes and ears to cries for freedom and democracy.
Shell should stop co-operation with the regime’s police and military forces while the brutal crackdown continues. If this means that Shall cannot continue its operations, that is the correct choice for any responsible actor.”

Graham Henley – General Manager of both Syria Shell and the Al-Furat Oil Company – has barely been in this job for a year. Before that he was responsible for Shell’s Gbaran-Ubie project in Nigeria in Bayelsa State.

[1] The Heidmar TBN is scheduled to collect 80,000 tonnes or 586,639 barrels of crude on 29th May 2011. It was chartered by STASCO, the Shell Trading and Shipping Company.
The crude purchased by Shell could be a shipment of Syria Light or a sourer/heavier blend of Syrian crude. The latter is valued at a significant discount to Brent, hence our conservative estimate of the payment. If the Heidmar TBN is loading Syria Light, the value could be over $65 million.…

[2] Syrian military vehicles run on fuel produced in Syria’s refineries at Homs and Baniyas, supplied with crude extracted in the east of Syria, near Deir Al-Zour.
As of January 2010, Syria’s refining capacity was around 240,000 barrels per day, according to the UE EIA. Shell contributes 55,000 barrels of high quality sweet Syria Light per day through the Al-Furat Oil Company. In addition, Syria imports around 95,000 barrels per day of gasoil/diesel.

[3] Based on Al-Furat exports of 45,000 barrels per day of Syria Light and 110,000 barrels per day of heavy/sour crudes by the Syrian Petroleum Company in 2008. Shell/Al-Furat extraction has remained at the same level since 2008, while wider Syrian extraction levels have fallen slightly, to 387,000 barrels per day. Oil revenues cover around a quarter of the Syrian budget, including military costs. Shell is the dominant foreign oil company. For the exact calculations contact PLATFORM.

Focus Areas