The start and end of a long article, too long to post but very thorough.
May 21, 2021
The Biden administration has decided to not extend a sanctions waiver granted by the Trump administration in April 2020 to a little-known American oil company to operate in northeast Syria, according to well-informed sources who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition they not be cited by name.
Delta Crescent Energy, whose waiver expired April 30, has been given a 30-day grace period to wind down its activities in northeast Syria. The US-protected area is governed by the Kurdish-run autonomous administration of northeast Syria, which is not recognized by Damascus.
The decision to withdraw the waiver to produce and sell oil in Syria, which remains heavily sanctioned under the Caesar Act, has been presented by administration officials as a policy correction, not a shift. As such, no other companies are likely to be granted waivers, either.
“I think [Delta Crescent Energy officials are] hopeful and truly don’t understand the political constraints,” one of the administration sources noted.
Delta Crescent Energy maintains nonetheless that it has struck two separate deals to sell and transport the oil. Sources familiar with the issue said the first was with an unnamed American company earlier this year for the sale of 5 million metric tons, which is supposed to generate $1.1 billion, and the second one, estimated at $1.23 billion, this month with another unnamed company. One of the sources said that “to facilitate this,” Delta Crescent Energy received transport and export licenses “in order to ensure all trade was conducted within [Office of Foreign Asset Control] license requirements.” But the source was unable to clarify which entity had granted the said licenses; it clearly wasn’t the Syrian government.
In February, after Biden took office, Delta Crescent Energy did receive an export license from the Department of Commerce to ship the first US-manufactured production equipment to northeast Syria. The equipment included solar-powered meters to monitor the flow of oil from the fields in the Kurdish-controlled zone, the sources said. The sources added that Delta Crescent Energy had set up a physical office in northeast Syria in September 2020 with a staff of around 10 to 15 people.
Syrian Kurdish sources with knowledge of Delta Crescent Energy’s activities maintain that there is no evidence that the company has embarked on any kind of substantial activity inside northeastern Syria so far. “Their office isn’t even really an office,” one of the sources said.