The energy distribution map in Syria, and its role in the political balance
Syria is not an important source of energy compared to other countries in the Middle East. It does not float on a sea of oil and gas, unlike many other Arab countries. However, it has geographical advantages that give it a special role in the energy distribution map resources, especially Non Renewable. As it is a gateway that can contribute to reducing the expenses of energy transfer from Iraq and the Gulf States towards the Mediterranean, which is the Asia’s most important gateway to the western countries, so Syria’s importance in the distribution map of energy from the geographical position in a location of strategic importance of global forces, It has an important source of interest and attention to it from those forces.
The inability of Syrian energy sources to attract external ambitions in a way that fuels the conflict among the forces that represent these ambitions does not deny at all the importance of these sources at the internal level. Its focus in a specific geography makes it attractive to local forces, because of its role in consolidating the bargaining power of the dominant power over that geography from shaping the political features of the future Syria. The peaceful Syrian movement, which demands freedom, has quickly become a movement of conflicting parties in order to gain immediate gains by controlling the income channels. The result is the spread of moral chaos, which has been translated into strange manifestations such as exaggeration, defamation and the like, and the division of spheres of influence. It seems that this is if not planned by the regime to draw a specific picture of the opposition forces, they certainly suitable to it, to cover his unfair behavior in society.
As the distribution map of renewable and non-renewable energy refers to the relative importance of the three eastern provinces, these provinces entered into the accounts of the contestants in the early stages of the Syrian conflict and later acquired their strategic importance in the accounts of the forces that took control of the Syrian arena after the filtering of the revolutionaries. Today, the areas under control of Syrian Democratic Forces, which expanded from 39,000 square kilometers in March 2017 to 46,000 square kilometers in October 2017, are the most strategic areas throughout Syria, equivalent to approximately 25% of the total. This is from two main points: First: Concentration of renewable and non-renewable sources of energy and the need of most Syrian provinces for the products of those sources, which are primarily gas and oil used for both consumer and industrial purposes.
Second: This geography is located in the axis of the Mediterranean and East Asia, which extends to Asia Minor and China across Iraq and Iran. There is no doubt that this factor is of strategic importance to the world fighting powers to gain a foothold in the Middle East or to expand their sphere of influence. Energy distribution map If the oil discoveries during the last century emphasize the concentration of Syrian energy sources in the eastern provinces, this does not exclude the existence of potential reserves in the southern and western regions, as there is a possibility of commercial reserves in the coastal areas, including territorial waters. The Syrian Ministry of Oil has concluded a contract with the Russian Soyuz Nafta Gas Company for oil exploration in the Sahel and Syrian territorial waters. Energy sources in Syria vary between renewable sources and nonrenewable sources. First: renewable sources of energy in Syria Renewable sources of energy in Syria are concentrated in the generation of electricity from dams water. The dams of Tishreen, Euphrates and AlBa’ath, along the Euphrates River, the largest river in Syria, are the most important sources of renewable energy. These dams produce energy as follows:
1- Euphrates dam: It is the largest water dam in Syria. Its capacity is 880 MW per day, with eight turbines, 110 MW each, in addition to benefiting from dam water in irrigating an area of 640 thousand hectares for agriculture.
2- Ba’ath Dam: It is an organizational dam for the water that passes through the Euphrates Dam and works to increase the production capacity of the Euphrates dam by 80 MW daily by making it a factor of its maximum capacity. The generating capacity of the dam is 75 MW of electric power, through three generating turbines, each capacity of 25 MW.
3. Tishreen dam: The capacity of the Tishreen dam is 630 MW of electricity and generates this energy by investing six turbines with a capacity of 105 MW each turbine. If there is a lifeline in Syria, it is certainly the Euphrates River, which passes over 600 km across Syrian territories and gives life to 620 thousand hectares of land in Aleppo. The production capacity of dams built and all under the control of Syrian Democratic Forces 1585 MW, equivalent to 20% of the electricity generated by the gas, oil and steam engines in Syria, amounting to 7860.5 MW, which is almost sufficient to supply areas of control of these forces electric power, which will help to contribute to the development and acceleration of the infrastructure of the Northern Syrian Federalism compared to the rest of the Syrian areas that have been destroyed by the armed groups, which at the same time lack the sources of energy. There is no doubt that this advantage gained by these forces will be the interest to the Syrian regime and its allies on the ground, and the economic output of dams built on the river will have a role in the political balance.
The controlling of these wealth can control many aspects of life. Current scientific data confirm the increasing potential for renewable and environmentally friendly energy to be invested through its multiple sources. Syria is a good source of hydroelectric power generation in all of its provinces due to high exposure to sunlight throughout the year, so solar projects are economically and environmentally viable in the country. The regime government has given 11 hydroelectric power projects with a production capacity of 1,190 MW, all of which are on a line extending from Suweida to Hama through Damascus and Homs. Only one small project has been implemented in Al-Keswa area in Damascus suburb with a capacity of 1.26 MW. Second: Non-renewable sources of energy in Syria These sources are concentrated on oil and gas production petroleum Although Syria does not float on a sea of oil and gas, it remains productive in quantities that contribute to the support of its gross domestic product. The volume of Syrian production of oil was 400 thousand barrels per day in 2010.
Syria exported 150 thousand barrels per day, more than 90% of its oil exports went to some EU countries such as Italy, France and Germany. The contribution of oil to Syrian in the same year was 3.2 US billion. While most of the fields and wells stopped production in the crisis, and the oil is produced in the following basins:
1- The Mesopotamian Basin, which stretches from southeast Turkey to the Arabian Gulf with a length of two thousand km and a width of about 350 km. The fields of Karashuk, Swediya and Rmilan are the most important fields of this basin. There are also some fields south of AlHasaka and Tel-Hamis.
2- The Euphrates basin is characterized by its production of light oil, and Al-Omar field to the east of Deir Al-Zour is one of the largest oil fields in this basin. There is in this basin a number of other fields, such as the tannak field in Badia Shuaitat, AL-Wared field, Al-Tem and Al-Jaafara, in addition to the Koniku gas plant, which was supplying the gas stations of Gender and Deir Ali to generate electricity by gas, and the distribution of gas in various Syrian provinces, as this plant enjoys great strategic importance for various Syrian authorities.
3 – AL-Tadmory basin, which is the largest basin of gas, and Al-Shaaer field is the most important fields in this basin. Recent developments, the latest of which is the control of Syrian Democratic Forces on Al-Omar field, the largest Syrian oil fields, confirm that the exclusionary mentality that the regime deals with the various Syrian forces, led by SDF, will reflect its economic situation by depriving it of up to 90% Oil revenues at the very least, as most of the oil fields are under the control of these forces, as well as the areas under their control in the area of Palmyra more than those under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces. The Syrian forces control the oil fields with a daily production of 400 thousand barrels, in the case of operating capacity and rehabilitation facilities, while the control of the Syrian regime on oil fields do not exceed production of 35 thousand barrels per day.
These figures indicate the great importance of the oil role in shaping the features of the Syrian political balances. Oil can’t be excluded or neglected in the political negotiations whose features are slowly being clarified after the liberation Raqqa from daesh, in order to achieve the stability factor, which requires the acceptance of submission to the central authorities, and thus reject the logic of the central government in Syria after the war. Natural gas: In the last century, gas production in Syria has been limited to the gas associated with the extraction of oil in the known oil fields in the northeastern Syria. However, the beginning of the present century witnessed a significant development in the production of gas from private fields in the provinces of Raqqa and Homs.
However, it is still under exploratory studies, which were stopped as a result of the Syrian events that began in March 2011, and did not start the actual drilling operations. So, the production of Syrian gas, which amounted to 8.7 Billion cubic meters in 2011, almost submerged in geography extended from the far north-east of Al-Hasaka province to Deir Al-Zour, and the fields located between Raqqa and Homs. The gas used for domestic and industrial consumption was used and power plants were supplied with the necessary power for operation. Gas production declined from 8.7 billion cubic meters per year in 2011 to 7.6 billion cubic meters in 2012 and to about 5.9 billion cubic meters in 2013 and about 5.4 billion cubic meters in 2014 and to 3.65 billion before the fall of Palmyra, however, which destroyed the gas supply line in the Farquls area to deprive the regime of gas sources that enable it to generate electricity through the generation plants operating in its areas of control, in order to force them to deal with it by obtaining gas from daesh in return for providing electricity.
The supply of the Jandar station, which supplies Damascus, Homs and major Syrian cities with gas, has not stopped. It is located in Deir Al-Zour, which was controlled by various groups such as the Joujou army, Al-Nasra Front, the Islamic Shura Council and the daesh, only after it was damaged as a result of coalition forces shelling in March 2016. These forces carried out an air landing in September 2017. The regime used the same policy in the Euphrates Dam, which was controlled by daesh in 2013. Daesh controlled the dam while maintaining the technical crew of the system to operate the dam. The production of natural gas in Syria is currently distributed among the regime’s forces in the south and west of the Euphrates River and Syrian Democratic Forces in the north and east of the River.
The monitoring of the production capacity of the gas fields shows a relative superiority of the regime over Syrian Democratic Forces in the volume of gas production. Gas production under the control of the regime (7.45) Million cubic meters per day, equivalent to 57% of the total production capacity of Syrian gas fields. While the production capacity of the fields under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (5.6 million cubic meters per day), equivalent to 43% of the total production capacity of the gas fields. Despite the relative superiority of the regime over Syrian Democratic Forces in the volume of natural gas production, the facilities built in the areas of Syrian Democratic Forces play a vital role in provide electricity and domestic gas in Syria, especially from Koniku and Swediya in AlHasaka. An important point in the map of the distribution of fossil energy in Syria, noting that the oil investments of the last century are mostly located in the provinces of Al-Hasaka and Deir Al-Zour, relied on the extraction of the western companies, especially the British-Dutch Shell, while most of the recent investments in this area are in the south and west of the Euphrates River and in areas stretching between the western and southern countryside of Deir Al-Zour and south of the Raqqa to the desert of Palmyra and Homs area.
The exploration and extraction companies are Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Venezuelan and Malaysian companies. This means that the Syrian regime “Bashar Al-Assad” resorted to the oil investment companies in the eastern countries, despite the fact that the proportion of oil exports to the EU 90% of the total oil exports. What is noticeable in the strategy of investing fossil fuels of the Syrian regime in the current century is the building of solid economic relations based on granting oil concessions to the competing partners of western policies in the Middle East, and thus working to get out of the western control, not only this, but also, establish unequal strong relation with neighboring Turkey. The regime imagined that this would give an advanced diplomatic position in light of the global changes. Regime thought that through this, it would be able to play through the axes to create a global rift in the Middle East, and Syria would become the country that everyone competes to win.
This movement led by the Syrian regime almost completely stopped the oil investments in the southern and western regions of the Euphrates River and establish the features of a new phase that brought the West a key role in the Syrian investment map in general. It has made the northern part of the project an important crossing point starting from Minor and Eastern Asia and ends on the east coast of the Mediterranean. Electricity The amount of electricity that can theoretically be generated in fossilbased power plants is 7860.5 MW.
These stations are based on the generation of electric power on gas, heavy oil and light oil in addition to a small amount, used in Aleppo, Mahreda and Banias stations, with a total capacity does not exceed 89 MW per day. Source: General Institution of Power Generation, Annual Report 2016 The map of the distribution of fossil-fueled power stations indicates that they are deployed in the regime control areas, with the exception of the Swediya station which generates 172 MW. It is noted from the previous figure that most of the generation plants are located on the line extending from the Syrian south in Damascus countryside to Aleppo province with the exception of two stations located in eastern Syria, namely, Swediya and Al-Taim stations in Al Hasaka and Deir Al-Zour, with a total capacity of 268 MW, equivalent to only 3.41% of the total production capacity of the fossil fuel-based generation plants. The concentration of fossil fuel-based power stations in the strip extending from southern Syria to the north parallel to the western border, despite its distance from primary sources, may be the presence of three dams on the Euphrates River, which can provide the need of the three eastern provinces of electric power, which led to the government to build stations in the western regions to provide their electricity.
It may be the result of a government policy aimed at achieving the proliferation of productive institutions and sources of raw materials throughout the Syrian geography and thus adopting the regional development methodology. Regime depends on the generation of electricity using natural gas mainly, as the proportion of stations operating on gas to 46.5%, and up to 75.4% if added to the mixed stations working on gas and oil. The reliance on gas for this high percentage of electricity generation is due to the availability of the raw material, in addition to being environmentally friendly.
This policy is economically and environmentally correct. The electricity generated in the control areas of the Syrian Democratic Forces is 1753 MW per day, equivalent to 18.4% of the total electricity generated in Syria. There is considerable potential for generating electricity by setting up hydroelectric fields because large areas of nonagricultural land can be invested for this purpose, thereby significantly reducing the cost of power generation. The regime does not have any pressure on Syrian Democratic Forces, because it does not control the power generation or the generation plants in these areas. This weak point in the regime represents a point of strength possessed by the SDF to consolidate its political system through its political representative represented by the Democratic Council of Syria.
In general, SDF areas is characterized by comparative advantages in terms of power generation, as well as various energy sources, which gives it the advantages of building an economic system independent of Damascus if it refuses to deal. More than 50% of Syria’s GDP. Therefore, the role of energy sources can’t be neglected in drawing political balances between the Syrian components; it is almost impossible to draw the features of the Syrian future in the light of the economic, social, political, military and moral chaos, if there is no great interest in the equation resulting from the distribution of sources energy between the parties controlling geographical holdings in the Syrian conflict, because energy is one of the most important keys to the solution and towards a harmonious Syria building between its various components seeking coexistence together.
Dr. Ahmed Youssef