Suncor reviewing new U.S. sanctions on Syria

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc is reviewing new U.S. sanctions imposed on the Syrian government on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Canadian oil company said.

The company operates the C$1.2 billion ($1.21 billion) Ebla project in Syria, which supplies natural gas to the domestic market. Suncor will adhere to any of the sanctions that affect its operations, Kelli Stevens, a spokeswoman for the company said.

“Whatever sanctions come out, we’ll comply with. That’s what we have to do,” she said.

The Obama administration added to existing sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad’s government on Thursday, freezing assets in the United States and banning Syrian petroleum products.

The new measures prohibit U.S. entities, wherever located, from engaging in any transactions or dealings with Syrian petroleum products.

The sanctions came as the United States, Canada and the European Union called on the Syrian president to step down on Thursday after a five-month crackdown on protests in which U.N. investigators said troops used an apparent “shoot-to-kill policy” and widespread torture.

Suncor jointly owns the Ebla project, which produces 80 million cubic feet of gas per day, with Syria’s state-owned General Petroleum Corp. However its tie with the government has yet to affect its reputation, an analyst said.

“If there is an issue with the domestic market where the company hasn’t been clear about what the risks are, then that could be a reputational issue, but at this point in time I haven’t heard that,” said Phil Skolnick, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity.

Suncor, Canada’s largest integrated oil company, owns a refinery in Denver, Colorado, and sells much of the production from its northern Alberta oil sands operations into the U.S. market.

Its Syrian operation is a small part of the company’s assets, producing 18,100 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the second quarter, about 3 percent of the company’s total output.

Suncor shares fell C$1.34 to C$30.39 by midday on the Toronto Stock Exchange on a sharp drop in oil prices.

($1=$0.99 Canadian)

Additional reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Peter Galloway and Rob Wilson