Little-known U.S. Firm secures deal for Syrian oil

Former diplomat and special pressures soldier got green light to occupational with Kurds to develop crude in northeastern Syria.

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A pond that oil at an oil field controlled by a U.S-backed Kurdish group, in Rmeilan, Hassakeh province, Syria. | AP Photo/Hussein Malla

An American agency has inked a contract through Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria come develop and also export the ar crude oil under a secretive deal approved through the U.S. Federal government months after president Donald trump announced he to be leaving U.S. Troops to “secure the oil,” multiple civilization familiar through the job told

The commitment reached through a little-known certain helmed through politically connected former military and also diplomatic public representative has already angered the federal government of Syrian president Bashar Assad, which go not identify the Kurdish authorities together autonomous. The Syrian international Minister referred to as the deal illegal and said it is aimed at “stealing” Syria’s crude.

The deal developments a longtime U.S. Goal to aid the Syrian Kurds, which have actually been staunch U.S. Allies in the fight versus the Islamic terror group, to combine their position in the region, wherein they confront not simply Assad"s brutal program but likewise the Turkish government -- and administer new method to help address the desperate requirements of civilians that have actually been recorded in the Syrian civil war.

The company, Delta Crescent energy LLC, was integrated in Delaware in February 2019, follow to its organization license. The partners incorporate former U.S. Ambassador come Denmark James Cain; James Reese, a former officer in the Army’s elite Delta Force; and John P. Dorrier Jr., a former executive in ~ GulfSands Petroleum, a U.K.-based oil agency with offices and also drilling suffer in Syria.

It has been in talks with the Kurds for much more than a year yet only received a patent from the Treasury Department"s Office of foreign Assets manage for the job-related in April, follow to a State room official and a Syrian resource familiar with the discussions. The setup is to refine and use some of the oil locally but also export some through northern Iraq and also Turkey, they said.

The company was very first identified through Al-Monitor. The names of its founders were first published by Iraq Oil Report. independently verified the details using Delta Crescent"s Delaware company license.

The Treasury Department has actually multiple sanctions against Syria’s oil market. In a march 2019 the Trump management issued the orders targeting carriers that provide or finance petroleum shipping of Syrian oil on instead of of the country’s government. The initiative is draft to punish the Assad routine for atrocities committed amid the country’s polite war.

However, the Pentagon and State Department have actually long been working to permit the Syrian Kurds to harness the crude oil in the region, a previous Trump management official said The idea is that revenue native the oil could help the Kurds resolve the dire humanitarian instance in the war-torn country, including overflowing refugees camps from year of civil war, the human being said.

“The score is to obtain the production earlier up to whereby it was prior to the polite war and sanctions,” claimed Ambassador Cain. “It was really much our effort to save the State Department recommend — not seeking approval — yet wanting to recognize if this to be contrary to American plan interest. No one told us no.”

A spokesperson for the Syrian autonomous Forces, i m sorry controls the region and is allied with the joined States, decreased to comment. A Treasury department spokesperson likewise declined to talk about the transaction on Monday.

"Treasury does no generally talk about or carry out details on license applications or certain licenses that have actually been issued as the information consisted of within these license applications and also determinations may be safeguarded by the Privacy Act, the Trade tricks Act, or various other regulations administrate OFAC’s license authorities," the spokesperson claimed in an email.


The deal an initial came to light during a Senate international Relations Committee hearing on Thursday, once Secretary the State Mike Pompeo to be questioned around it through Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of southern Carolina.

Pompeo said the administration supports the deal and also said it is intended to “modernize” the oil fields. “The deal took a little longer ... 보다 we had hoped, and also now we’re in implementation,” that said.

Graham called ~ above Monday that the agency will quick him this mainly on its plans.

"I think this company’s walking to enhance the viability of the north oil fields to do them an ext productive,” Graham said. “Conceptually it provides sense that we should, rather of just writing checks, aid people help themselves.”

The State room is leading the effort under James Jeffrey, United claims Special Representative because that Syria Engagement and the distinct Envoy because that the global Coalition to defeat ISIL, and his deputy, Joel Rayburn, the former Trump management official said.

However, they have actually sought to save the transaction quiet for fear that Russia, i m sorry backs Assad’s regime and deploys military and paramilitary forces across the region, might retaliate, both the State department official and also Syrian resource said.

A State room spokesperson declined to comment on the contract but detailed that the U.S. Federal government considers requests “on a case-by-case communication to authorize U.S. Persons’ joining in activities that would generally be prohibited.”

“We room not connected in the commercial decisions of our local partners. However, together a general matter, we occupational to ensure the our sanctions are in line through our international policy interests and target the Assad’s regime ongoing violence versus the Syrian people,” the spokesperson said.

“Syrian oil is because that the Syrian people and also we continue to be committed come the unity and territorial integrity of Syria," the spokesperson added. "The united States federal government does not own, control, or regulate the oil resources in Syria. The populations in areas liberated native ISIS do their very own decisions on regional governance.”

Delta Crescent has actually so far been the only agency to obtain a license to occupational in Syria due to the fact that U.S. Military pressures all yet abandoned the nation in October.


Trump at the time ordered only enough troops to continue to be in the war-ravaged nation to allow for “keeping the oil." The U.S. Used residual forces to certain the oil areas in the eastern part of the country and also to continue fighting Islamic State militants. The country’s oil field were seized through ISIS throughout the civil war. Years of fighting that forced ISIS to retreat left the production framework devastated, however.

Delta Crescent operates under the defense of the SDF and also the U.S. Armed forces in northeast Syria, the sources said.

Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Jessica McNulty provided that the room of Defense "does not have an affiliation with any type of private carriers in regard to the oil fields in northeast Syria."

However, she added that U.S. Pressures in the an ar are "securing crucial petroleum framework in northeast Syria to deny ISIS access to an essential resources and also revenue." The militants previously provided revenue created from oil areas there to money its terror operations. "We will certainly not permit that happen again," she said.

McNulty also listed that the oil resources "currently carry out some that the capital necessary for the SDF to conduct operations" against ISIS.

The company’s arrangement is to offer the Syrian oil to miscellaneous customers in the region, potentially including Assad, Turkish-backed rebels and also Iraqi Kurdistan, every one of whom could then market it ~ above the worldwide market, the Syrian resource said.

Cain said the company would market its assets “directly right into the international industry at market prices so the they can use the proceeds come rebuild their economic climate and help their people,“ that said.

Reese, the former Delta pressure soldier was additionally a founder at phibìc Carolina-based consulting and also private security firm TigerSwan.

The company gained notoriety several years back when north Dakota regulators sued it for offering private protection in the state without a patent after it sent out agents come crack under on protests versus the Dakota access pipeline, activate by a agency owned by trumped donor Kelcy Warren.

TigerSwan denied all wrongdoing and also the state reduce the case after the agency left north Dakota.

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Attempts to reach Dorrier to be unsuccessful. He left GulfSands in the late 2000s, follow to news reports in ~ the time. A GulfSands spokesperson did not reply come emails search comment.