Syrian Kurds Refine Oil Autonomously

Syrian Kurds Refine Oil AutonomouslySyrian Kurds Refine Oil Autonomously

Smoke rises as crude oil is heated in Rmeilan Oilfield of Syria's Hasakeh province, where the Kurds are extracting and refining oil for the first time.

Located in the middle of the desert in the northeastern province of the war-torn country, Rmeilan is Syria's largest oilfield in terms of surface area.

"We heat the crude up to 125 degrees Celsius, or 257 Fahrenheit to produce gasoline, 150 degrees for kerosene and 350 degrees for fuel oil," said Kurdish technician Jakdar Ali, Middle East Online reported.

"It is the first time that the Kurds are extracting and refining oil in an autonomous manner" in Syria, said Suleiman Khalaf, head of the Kurdish Energy Organization. The Kurdish operation in Rmeilan now produces around 15,000 barrels of oil a day, more than the barely 10,000 bpd that Syria's government generates.

It is less than a tenth of the 165,000 that Rmeilan was producing before the war, but it is enough to meet the needs of areas in Hasakeh under Kurdish control.

"We defended these installations and these wells with hundreds of martyrs," he said, watching a handful of workers on the field. Khalaf said the Syrian government had helped get Rmeilan's wells back on stream by providing raw materials such as oil for turbines and spare parts.

Damascus also continues to pay the salaries of the handful of former government employees who have gone back to work in Rmeilan. The gasoline produced at the site is of poor quality, but it sells for much less than that produced by the government in the few oil wells it still controls.

The gasoline distributed by the state costs 400 Syrian pounds ($1.3) a liter, compared to around 150 for the local product.