Western sanctions on Syrian oil exports have cost the country $2 billion (1 billion pounds) since September; Oil Minister Sufian Alao was quoted as saying. The official SANA news agency quoted Alao as saying that Syria was still trying to replace European Union crude oil contracts with new customers, but was having trouble securing shipping insurance and trade credit.
European Union states, which bought most of Syria's approximately 130,000 barrels per day of oil exports, imposed sanctions on Syrian oil on September 2, following a similar decision by the United States. Alao said Syria had previously used revenues from sales of crude oil to "secure the Syrian public's oil requirements," but that these domestic fuel needs were now being funded by the treasury and banks.
He described the Western sanctions as unfair, illegal and "aiming to inflict as much damage as possible on the Syrian people." Alao also said "terrorist" attacks on oil and gas pipelines and other energy infrastructure targets had killed 21 workers, disrupted supplies and caused damage estimated at 2 billion pounds ($34 million).