Syria Oil-for-Aid-Initiative: Mees Article

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Gulfsands’ Managing Director, John Bell, interviewed with MEES last week about a Syrian initiative that Gulfsands has been considering for some time. 

After 12 years of civil war, it is time for new ideas. Therefore, in recent months, we have accelerated our efforts to garner support for the initiative.

Gulfsands is pioneering a concept whereby international oil companies would return to operations in northeast Syria, with allocated revenues from oil sales deposited in an internationally administered fund and disbursed to finance humanitarian, economic and security projects across the country – for the benefit of all Syrian people.

Over 90% of Syrians are below the poverty line; the magnitude of the crisis and potential for further deterioration are, sadly, too evident.

The energy sector is the only sector that has the ability to generate billions of dollars that could be used towards early recovery and economic stimulus efforts, if channelled legally, transparently, and sustainably.

Since 2017, illegal production and sales – undertaken by the SDF – from Gulfsands’ fields alone had a potential value of approximately USD2.5bn. The majority of this has benefited illicit actors through unsafe, unregulated, and environmentally damaging practices, in breach of international sanctions and risking the future value of Syria’s oil and gas resources. All Syrian people should benefit from their country’s national resource endowment and these funds could be directed towards enabling Syrians to build resilience for the future.

We are aware that such a proposal comes with numerous challenges, but believe that if nothing is ventured, nothing is gained. We are encouraged by our early-stage discussions with the UK and US governments and other IOCs. The issues at hand are complex and sensitive; developing the proposal will require time, collaboration, careful consideration, and an open mind – with a focus on the future, not the past.

This will not be easy. But we encourage all stakeholders, including the United Nations and regional neighbours, to see not just the value but also the necessity in working with us towards finding a solution in Syria. It’s time for a new approach – please get in touch to hear more or to share your thoughts.

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