In the third sophisticated attack on Syria's Banias Oil Refinery within the past seven months, persons the government labeled "terrorists" planted underwater explosives this past week damaging offshore oil facilities including pipelines used to transport oil into one of Syria's two main refineries.
Oil minister Ali Ghanem told state TV that the bombs were planted by divers in the facility used to pump oil to the coast. He said the facility is 3 kilometers (2 miles) off the coast and is 23 meters (yards) underwater.
"The aim of the attack is to cease (oil) imports into Syria," Ghanem said, adding the ministry's experts are evaluating and fixing the damage. He said the attack will not stop imports as the ministry had prepared plans in case of such attacks.
Syria has suffered fuel shortages since last year. The long reach of U.S. and European sanctions have blocked imports, while most Syrian oil fields are controlled by Kurdish-led fighters in the country's east.
Before the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, the country exported around half of the 350,000 barrels of oil it produced per day. Now its production is down to around 24,000 barrels a day, covering only a fraction of domestic needs.