Iran is doubling the price of its oil going to Syria to a market rate of over $70 per barrel and now refuses to ship oil to Damascus on credit, demanding payment in advance, sources with knowledge of the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.
The new restrictions on deliveries of Iranian oil—which accounts for more than half of Syria’s oil consumption—are further straining the already struggling Syrian economy. The fuel shortages are the worst since the beginning of the civil war in Syria a decade ago, analysts told the Journal.
Iran, together with Russia, has been the main military backer of Syrian Present Bashar al-Assad and his government since the start of the protests in the country in 2011.
Now the economic crisis in Iran is preventing it from buying more influence in the Middle East and is forcing Tehran to charge Syria the full price for the oil it receives.
Iran, itself beset by an economic crisis and a government crackdown on protests that have been going on for months, cannot afford to sell its oil cheaply, even to an ally such as Syria, Iranian officials have told the Journal.
“There is no reason to sell to Syria at low prices,” Hamid Hosseini, a spokesman at the Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Products Exporters’ Union in Tehran, told the WSJ, adding that Iranian producers are now “under pressure.”
Inflation in parts of Iran topped 48% in December as the economy continues to suffer from the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and exports.
The talks between Iran and the world powers about the possibility of reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iranian nuclear deal as it is commonly known, stalled last year, and there haven’t been indications they could resume soon.