U.S. sanctions target Syrian energy sector

March 9, 2012 at 7:38 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- A U.S. foreign affairs committee said it passed bipartisan legislation that authorizes sanctions targeting the Syrian energy and financial sector.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, co-wrote the Syrian Freedom Support Act. The measure, approved unanimously by the House of Representatives, calls for sanctions targeting Syria's energy sector.

"This bill strengthens sanctions against the Syrian regime, enhances multilateral commitment to address the Syrian regime's threatening policies, and establishes a program to support a transition to a democratically elected government in Syria," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.

Oil production in Syria peaked at around 580,000 barrels per day in the mid-1990s. The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said it expected Syria to produce around 250,000 bpd this year.

State-owned General Petroleum Corp. was hit with sanctions imposed by the European government in December. Gulfsands Petroleum, one of the last foreign companies working in Syria, opted to halt exploration last month.

The United Nations estimates more than 7,000 people have died as a result of the yearlong conflict in Syria. Ros-Lehtinen's measure also authorizes financial and political assistance to pro-democracy groups in Syria.

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