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Shell tells employees in Syria to obey EU sanctions, not clear production will stop

By Associated Press, Updated: Friday, December 2, 4:04 PM

AMSTERDAM — Royal Dutch Shell PLC said Friday it will halt its operations in Syria to comply with sanctions imposed by the European Union over the country’s violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

While Shell employees were told to stop working, it was not clear whether that will actually mean any reduction in Syria’s oil output. Shell is a minority partner in Syria’s state-owned Al Furat Petroleum Company, which the EU blacklisted Friday due to the country’s deadly crackdown on protesters.

Al Furat produces 13,000 barrels of oil per day — a significant player in the Syrian market, but representing less than half of 1 percent of Shell’s daily global production.

“Shell will cease its activities in Syria in compliance with sanctions,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “Our main priority is the safety of our employees of whom we are very proud.”

Spokesman Jonathan French declined to give any further details about how many employees the company has in Syria. The Dutch national broadcaster NOS reported there are “several dozen” but French could not confirm that.

He would also not comment on what their nationalities are, or whether the company is planning to evacuate any of them.

In August, Shell rejected requests from Dutch parliament to stop its Syrian operations, saying it would hurt the Syrian people more than its government.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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