Written evidence submitted by Mr Darren White (WGN0001)

 

This submission reflects the views of the contributor, who is responsible for the accuracy of all claims made in the submission. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Foreign Affairs Committee. As a written submission accepted by a parliamentary committee, it is protected in the usual way by parliamentary privilege. No legal or other action may be taken against any person on ay grounds arising from the fact that they have provided such material.

 

Short Bullet points Wagner and PSC/PMC

 

Example on information: Syria

Russian Contracts & Projects:

Recent months have seen Russian oil and gas companies, return to Syria. Two Russian companies have, thus far, received contracts: Evro Polis, which is expected to earn profits from oil and gas fields captured by the government in Deir Ezzor province, and Stroytransgaz, which signed a phosphate mining deal worth an unspecified amount in millions of USD. Evro Polis is part of a network of companies owned by Evgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian businessman close to President Vladimir V. Putin. He is known in Moscow as “the Kremlin’s chef” because his catering company (Concord Catering) signed exclusive contracts with the Putin administration. Evro Polis was, established by Prigozhin mid 2016, a few months before signing a deal with the Syrian Ministry of Petroleum. Under that agreement, the Syrian government stated it would provide Evro polis with a quarter of oil and gas revenues generated from territory in Eastern Syria reclaimed by the regime. The contract, is only a memorandum of understanding, and is valid for five years. According to reports, Evro Polis is affiliated with a Russian PSC “Wagner Group” (founded by Dmitri Utkin) which is also run by Prigozhin, and is also operating with Stroytransgaz, which deployed PSC contractors and advisors to Syria to assist and protect the oil and gas fields captured from ISIS by the SAA and associated militias. It is highly likely that a percentage of the revenues will be used to finance the force protection elements for these locations. This has been ongoing since 2013 with the deployment of 267 Russian contractors for the company Slavonic Corps to Syria. (Note: 2 Russian personnel, who may or may not be linked to the Slavonic Corps, had been captured by radical elements in Syria over the period, one of which we know was executed by ISIS) The agreement was reportedly brokered by the Hong Kong registered Moran Security Group and the Syrian government and blessed by the FSB. Soyuzneftegaz, a Russian oil engineering company, is partly owned by the Russian Central Bank and had operated in Syria until September 2015. It suspended its operations a few days before Russia launched its first cross border campaign in Syria, providing military support to the Syrian government. Soyuzneftegaz resumed operations in Syria in 2017, after a two year hiatus. It has been awarded a contract to extract two million tons of phosphate per year from mines in the central Syrian province of Homs under the condition it secures and provides force protection at the mine locations. It still remains unclear what phosphate mines are covered by this deal, but the Syrian government in January awarded Iran the right to develop the Sharqiyeh phosphate mines, the largest in the country. Soyuzneftegaz will probably be extracted from other mines in the region, particularly the Khneifis field. The Russian firm has also informed the Syrian government that it wishes to resume operations on its offshore block near the city of Tartous, and is seeking an extension of the duration of its gas exploration period to compensate for the time it had lost during the two year, suspension of its operations. These contracts awarded to Russian companies show an indication of how the Syrian government is providing Russia with oil and mining rights to pay for military and political support. This trend is likely to continue with Syria ceding access to other gas and oil assets to its Russian allies. One potential project could be the repair of the Jihar Gas Plant. Stroytransgaz had already built two gas, processing plants in Syria before the conflict. As such, the company would be a powerful contender for a contract to reconstruct the facility. Moreover, in the early 2000’s, Stroytransgaz constructed The Arab Gas Pipeline, a strategic asset that transports gas from Egypt to Turkey, through Jordan and Syria. As such, it will more than likely be involved in the construction of future pipelines running through Syria.

 

Prepared by:

Darren White

Risk and Crisis Management Advisor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 2022