DAMASCUS, Syria: Syria will host an Arab energy conference in 2024, the country’s energy ministry said on Thursday, the latest sign that Arab countries are preparing to reconnect with the government of the Syrian president in Bashar Assad difficulty.
The announcement follows a unanimous vote by members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries in a virtual meeting on Thursday, the ministry said. The conference will be held in Damascus, according to a ministry statement on Facebook and the official SANA news agency. Qatar hosts the 2023 conference.
In recent months, Arab countries have taken limited steps to improve their relations with Syria, a decade after she was rejected and expelled from the Arab League at the start of the country’s civil war in 2011.
The rapprochement has included the reopening of several embassies, visits by Arab officials to Damascus and the restoration of some commercial ties with the war-torn country. These measures are an acknowledgment of the facts on the ground: after years of war and despite the initial support of some Arab countries for his opposition, Assad’s government survived and his forces regained control of much of the country. .
The civil war in Syria has displaced half of its population, killed hundreds of thousands of people and sank the country’s economy.
Before the war, Syria produced 350,000 barrels of oil per day and exported more than half of it. It now averages around 24,000 barrels per day, covering only a fraction of national needs. Most of its oil fields are in the hands of Kurdish-led forces, who administer an autonomous region in the northeast of the country. Assad’s government has relied on a leading ally, Iran, for the supply of oil.
In recent weeks, an agreement has been signed with Egypt to extend natural gas through Syria to Lebanon using an Arab pipeline that has been out of service for a decade.
OAPEC was founded in Beirut in 1968 with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Libya as the first members. Its headquarters are in Kuwait. Algeria, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain joined three years later. The charter of the organization was then amended to allow members where oil is an essential source of income, but not the main one. Syria and Egypt also joined the group afterwards.
The organization’s website indicates that the total reserves of member states are estimated at 704 billion barrels per year.