McClatchy reports: Syrian rebels have captured two of the three major oilfields in the country’s southeastern Deir al Zour province and are extracting oil that they say is helping to support their rebellion.
“We are at the beginning of winter, and people need oil to run the bakeries and to heat their homes. The weather is very cold here,” said a rebel leader here who, for security reasons, identifies himself by his nom de guerre, Abu Mohamed.
The capture of the fields is another blow to the Syrian government’s attempt to offset inflation and shortages of various goods in the areas it still controls. It also has set off a booming oil trade in this impoverished area. Dozens of trucks wait in line 24 hours a day to fill up at rebel-held wells, which produce a light crude that can be burned without refining, though the result is dense smoke. Some farmers insist the unrefined crude can be used to power farm equipment, though it seems primarily to be used for heat.
Some of those waiting in line at one well this week said they’d been waiting for days. Along roadsides and at intersections all over the area, men could be seen reselling the oil from improvised tanker trucks and barrels loaded into the backs of pickups.
Abu Mohammed said the price at which the rebels sell the oil is largely a symbolic one, and prices at the various wells in operation appeared to be about $5 a barrel, far below the world price that hovers above $80 a barrel. [Continue reading…]