Syria increases gas production, hopes for more electricity

FURUQLUS, Syria (AP) — Newly installed turbine compressors at a gas facility in central Syria will lead to a production increase that will help ease the war-torn country’s electricity crisis, officials at the sprawling facility said Wednesday.

The Syrian Gas Co. facility in the central province of Homs suffered a series of attacks during Syria’s 11-year conflict, including the kidnapping of staff, a suicide car bomb, barrages of rockets and strikes by drones that killed 11 people at the facility, according to Fadi Ibrahim, who heads the Syria South Gas plant.

Syria’s conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands, displaced half the country’s population of 23 million and caused damage worth tens of billions of dollars has hit hard the country’s oil and gas facilities. In recent years, intense clashes erupted around gas fields in central Syria mostly between government forces and members of the Islamic state group.

To the east, the country’s largest oil fields are in the hands of U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters depriving the government of the resource and its income.

Amin Aldagree, director general of the Syrian Gas Co., said two gas turbine engine compressors have been installed and are functioning while two more will be ready by the end the of year. He said in the future, two compressors will work and the other two will be on standby.

“We have started feeling the tangible results,” Aldagree told The Associated Press adding that the expected increase will be about 500,000 cubic meters (17.6 million cubic feet) a day. He said gas will be delivered to customers such as power stations and as gas cylinders for clients.

He said the project is part of a contract with Russia’s Stroytransgaz, an engineering company in the oil and gas industry.

Aldagree said a major problem they have faced over the years is getting spare parts for the machines due to Western sanctions imposed on Syria’s government after the conflict started. He said recently, Syrian engineers have been able to make spare parts in the country.

The officials did not say by how many hours a day electricity supplies would increase. The capital Damascus gets an average of between eight and 12 hours per day.

Syrian government forces now control much of the country, thanks to allies Russia and Iran, which have helped tip the balance of power in Assad’s favor. Gas fields in Homs province now are mostly safe after Syrian troops captured much of the province.

Last year, Syria’s Electricity Ministry signed a $115 million contract with an Iranian company to rebuild a power station in a central province. Also last year, Syria signed a contract with a group of companies from the United Arab Emirates to construct a solar power station in a suburb of Damascus.

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