Syria announces new measures to curb fuel shortages

Syria: Syria adopted new measures Sunday to curb fuel shortages President Bashar al-Assad’s government has blamed on strangling Western sanctions on the war-torn country.

Syrian authorities are seeking to “regulate the distribution at petrol stations” and to ensure even deliveries across to country while “preventing waste and smuggling”, the official SANA news agency reported.

Syria’s government has faced a barrage of international sanctions since the conflict started in 2011, including measures impacting the import of petroleum-related products.

In Damascus, a city of five million, queues at petrol stations can take days.

Among the new measures agreed Sunday, the government said it would halve the amount of fuel allocated to public institutions to run their vehicles, set up mobile distribution points and re-open closed stations, SANA said.

The ministry of petrol and mineral resources in April temporarily slashed the daily cap on subsidised petrol by half, from 40 to 20 litres per vehicle.

On Sunday it blamed the crisis on “economic sanctions” that are targeting the energy sector and “preventing the arrival of oil tankers in Syria”, in comments on the ministry’s Facebook page.

But it promised an easing of the crisis in the coming days.

Prime Minister Emad Khamis, quoted in local press, said Iranian tankers supplying Syria had been halted due to US sanctions on Tehran.

Oil tankers bound for Syria have been barred from using Egypt’s Suez Canal for six months, he added.

In recent months fuel and oil shortages have rocked government-held areas of Syria, a country that before the war enjoyed relative energy autonomy.

Authorities estimate that since 2011 Syria’s oil and gas sector has suffered some $74 billion in losses.

The country’s main oil fields are still outside the government’s control.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since the conflict began with the repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

The UN estimates the conflict has caused some $400 billion in war-related destruction.