Royal Dutch Shell is to cease operations in Syria because of ongoing unrest there and in line with EU sanctions, the oil giant said Friday, while France's Total said it was staying on.
"Shell will cease its activities in compliance with sanctions," a company spokesman told AFP.
"Our main priority is the safety of our employees of whom we are very proud. We hope the situation improves quickly for all Syrians."
French oil giant Total said however that it would continue its activities in Syria.
"The new sanctions have an impact on our activities but they are continuing for the time being," a spokesman told AFP, adding: "Our legal situation is different from Shell's."
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Total's Syrian partner Deir Ez Zor Petroleum is not on the EU blacklist, while Shell is a partner of the Al-Furat Petroleum Company, a joint venture 50 percent owned by General Petroleum Corporation, a government-run oil firm, both of which were targetted in the new EU sanctions Friday.
It is understood that the cessation of Shell's activity will take some time to complete and would not be immediate.
The EU now has sanctions on around 120 Syrian individuals and companies and is already enforcing an arms embargo and a ban on imports of Syrian crude oil.
According to an industry expert in Damascus, Syria's oil output has collapsed from 340,000 barrels per day to 120,000 bpd due to the narrowing of export outlets.
Shell and Total are the two leading foreign oil companies operating in Syria.