Representatives of Qatirji society and leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) met in early August in the Civil Council of Tabqa – affiliated with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria led by the Kurds to discuss the possibility of increasing oil shipments that the company, which is listed on List of US sanctions, transport between government-controlled and SDF-controlled areas in northeastern Syria. Qatirji demanded to increase the weekly number of tankers to 400 from 250, while the SDF demanded that the Syrian government provide it with 100 tankers of diesel and gasoline, instead of 50.
Another meeting is scheduled between Qatirji’s representatives and leaders of the Raqqa Military Council next week in the town of Raqqa, to discuss a mechanism to protect tankers from explosive device attacks by unidentified people in the region. region.
It comes as the SDF blocked Qatarji tankers from enter its zones control on August 7, after the government violated an earlier agreement between the two sides that the SDF would supply the government with 200 tankers from the Rmelan and Deir ez-Zor fields, in return for supplying the SDF with 50 tankers loaded with gasoline and diesel. Qatirji also refrained from paying financial contributions related to previous oil shipments.
An autonomous administration source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity: “After several rounds of negotiations and meetings between Qatirji representatives and SDF leaders, an agreement was reached. [in early August] provide regime-controlled areas with 400 tankers per week through al-Hawra and al-Tabqa crossings from Rmelan and al-Shaddadi fields. Qatirji would transport them to the Homs refinery, at a price of between $ 3,240 and $ 3,960 per tanker, which contains 180 barrels of oil. Thus, the price of a barrel will oscillate between $ 18 and $ 22, depending on the quality of the oil. Qatirji would also supply our regions with 100 tankers of refined diesel and gasoline per week. “
The source added, “Despite repeated disputes between the regime and the SDF, and regardless of Qatirji’s non-payment, both sides have agreed to increase the amount of oil that will be exported to areas controlled by the regime, by consequence of Russian pressure to alleviate the fuel crisis in the areas controlled by the regime. Qatirji has undertaken to pay all contributions in installments which will be added to the amount that will be paid for the oil tankers that will be exported. Russia will accompany Qatirji to protect the trucks from the targets of ISIS cells and ensure that the trucks are transported without delays or problems. “
Wael Olwan, researcher based in Istanbul at Jusoor Study Center, told Al-Monitor: “Due to the pressure it has exerted on the Syrian regime, Russia has granted Qatirji the privilege of controlling the oil transport without bringing in another partner or even involving the regime. in this process. Qatirji became a direct partner of the Khmeimim base in early July. Qatirji mainly transports fuel from SDF-controlled areas via the Tall Adas station in al-Malikiyah to refineries on the Syrian coast, and brings refined fuel to SDF-controlled areas. Syrian regime forces will accompany these trucks in exchange for financial fees paid by Qatirji. “
He noted: “Russia awarded the Arfada company, affiliated with Qatirji, a five-year investment contract for the oil wells of al-Taym and al-Ward in Deir ez-Zor, each of which produces 2,500 barrels per day. The regime allowed Arfada last year to establish two oil refineries in partnership with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in Damascus, which holds a 15% stake in the partnership, while the Lebanese shipping company Sallizar holds 5%. and Arfada 80%.
Since the war in Syria broke out in 2011, the United States has imposed a series of sanctions on the Syrian government, the most important of which was the Caesar law. However, the SDF, an ally of the United States, is violating Caesar law and providing the Syrian government with oil and gas, generating estimated revenues of $ 120 million.
A report published by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) in July monitored these operations from the enactment of the Caesar Law and its entry into force in June 2020 until July 2021. The amount of smuggled oil in December 2020 alone indicates that the Syrian government has been supplied. by the FDS with 1,500 tankers. , with a capacity of 40,000 liters each, or about 500,000 barrels of oil per month, which is equivalent to 6 million barrels per year. Since the price of a barrel of oil is $ 20, the SDF earns around $ 120 million a year by selling oil to the government. Smuggling operations affect nearly 50% of the oil produced in areas controlled by the SDF, estimated at 11 million barrels of oil per year.