E.U. Sanctions Force Shell to Leave Syria
Protesters opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad face violent responses from security forces. The Arab League passed a series of measures censuring Syria for its actions.
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The European Union said Friday it has widened its sanctions on the oil companies, General Petroleum Co., Al Furat Petroleum Co. and Syria Trading Oil Co. The move is seen as a significant blow to Syria, with diplomats expecting it to curtail oil production in the country.
The Syrian groups are the local partners of various foreign oil companies, forcing them to stop working in the country.
Shell said it will cease its activities in compliance with sanctions. "Our main priority is the safety of our employees, of whom we are very proud," the company told the Financial Times. "We hope the situation improves quickly for all Syrians."
Industry officials say they believe that other European oil companies operating in the country, including Total of France and the London-listed Gulfsands Petroleum, will follow. Gulfsands said it would "comply with all of the latest E.U. sanctions" but would not comment on how that would affect its operations. Total did not respond immediately to a phone call seeking comment.
Royal Dutch Shell and Total are among the largest foreign investors in the Syrian crude oil industry. State-owned CNPC of China and ONGC of India are also large investors but will be unaffected by the European sanctions.
Separately, the U.N. Human Rights Council attacked Syria's crackdown on opposition protesters and appointed a special investigator to probe abuses in the country. While 37 countries voted in favor of a resolution backed by the Arab League, the U.S. and European countries, Russia, China and four other members voted against, with six abstentions.
Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, told an emergency session of the council that more than 4,000 people had been killed in the repression since March and that more than 14,000 people were believed to be held in detention.
Source: Washington Post | Javier Blas
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