Canada will not order Suncor out of Syria for now - minister

02 December 2011 22:20  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Canada’s government will not, at this time, order the country’s energy major Suncor to leave Syria, even as the UN on Friday urged countries to take action to protect the Syrian people from their own government.

Foreign minister John Baird told parliament that Suncor’s main project in Syria provided natural gas for domestic electricity generation. Without that gas, potentially hundreds of thousands of people would be left without electricity, he said.

But Baird indicated that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ruling conservative government may change its stance if it concluded that that was in the best interest of the Syrian people.

Baird had previously condemned the Syrian regime, and last week he called on the UN to follow the Arab League’s decision to impose tough sanctions on Damascus.

A politician from Canada's main opposition party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), said Suncor's project in Syria provided revenues for the Syrian government it could put to use against its people.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said on Friday that since March, Syrian security forces have killed about 4,000 people and detained about 14,000 in its ruthless crackdown.

“All acts of murder, torture and other forms of violence must be stopped immediately,” Pillay said and went on to urge the international community to take collective action to protect the Syrian people.

According to Suncor's website, the company's gas project in Syria started up last year and currently produces about 80m cubic feet/day (2.3m cubic metres/day) of gas.

In a notice Suncor posted on the website on 14 November, it said its 2012 forecasts include production from Syria, but not from Libya.

Suncor, which stopped production in Libya earlier this year, is preparing to re-enter that country following the change of regime there.

A Suncor spokeswoman said the company was reviewing its position in light of sanctions imposed by the EU this week.

She did not disclose what exactly the company would do. Also, she would not comment on how many expatriate employees Suncor currently has in Syria.

Suncor's international business outside of North America includes operations in Syria, Libya, the UK and Norway.


By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653



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