Israel and Syria, April 2019

Published ∼ Updated 4 months ago


  • Syria did not import any crude oil by sea during April.
  • Fuel crisis has been protracted as long fuel lines continue to plague the country.
  • Fuel have been sighted off the port of Baniyas on April 17th and 25th. We currently do not track refined products, only crude oil and gas condensates.
  • Baniyas and Homs refineries have been operating intermittently, most likely due to the trucked domestic transfers of crude oil from the fields in the east.

“Syria consumes 4.5 million liters of gasoline, 6 million liters of diesel, and 7,000 tons of fuel oil each day — a total 136,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). Syria’s annual petroleum products bill exceeds $2.5 billion. The country’s oil production, however, is currently just 24,000 barrels bpd, down from 385,000 bpd in 2010.”, according to Asia Times

Yesterday (May 5th, 2019) we saw an Iranian Suezmax called TRUE OCEAN arrive at the SBM delivery point off the coast of Baniyas; which is where the crude oil is delivered to the refinery. This tanker caught our attention because after she traversed the Suez Canal on April 4th, 2019 for the Mediterranean Sea, we found it odd that she continued to set sail for the Bay of Iskenderun, located in the east of the country. Iranian tankers typically sail to Aliaga, which is located in the west. Then we thought she might sail to Ceyhan and deliver to the Tupras refinery further inland via the pipeline, but she didn’t do that either. Instead, the vessel spent nearly 3 weeks just anchored off the non-oil port of Iskenderun. She was laden with nearly 1.07 million barrels of crude oil from Kharg Island (a March export at that) and then departed Iskenderun in the same load condition back towards the Suez. The only issue is that her AIS transponder went dark on the morning of May 3rd, 2019. Naturally, the first place to then look is Baniyas. Sure enough, the same vessel (visual characteristics and dimensions) fit the description. Our best guess now is that she’ll appear at the Suez Canal on May 10th or so.

What should be said about this delivery is that it is the first we’ve seen since January 1st this year. Also, it seems that it is directly under the command of Iran, and not any other parties such as in the case of SEA SHARK, which seems to be operated by Russian entities.

UPDATE 2019-05-07: We can now see that TRUE OCEAN has completed her delivery of oil to Syria and that the vessel’s AIS transponder has been switched back on 4 days after going dark. The vessel seems to be back-tracking her original voyage from the Suez Canal.


April was a tricky month. Our coverage only produced 142Kbpd as we saw that a number of imports were cloaked (AIS was switched off) and we are working on figuring out which vessels they were. We suspect (from the table below) that they came in from Russia as the country is absent from the list. Second to that, most of the oil came from the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government of northern Iraq). We also caught yet another shipment from the SUMED storage & transit pipeline network from the port of Sidi Kerir, Egypt. Most of the oil within that network originates from the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf; with Saudi Arabia being the largest tenant. However, we also had a look at some of the other imports and saw that India sent plenty of refined products into Israel during the month; which probably compensated the crude imports.

Source Barrels / Day Total Barrels Percentage By Source
KRG 61,815 1,854,450 43.67%
Azerbaijan 33,811 1,014,315 23.89%
Nigeria 27,322 819,673 19.30%
SUMED Pipeline 18,600 558,008 13.14%
Total 141,548 4,246,440
Value ($70.40/barrel) $9,964,979 $298,949,376

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