The Biden administration has decided it will not renew a waiver that allowed a politically connected US oil company to operate in northeast Syria under president Donald Trump’s pledge to “keep the oil” produced in the region, according to a US official familiar with the decision.
Treasury Department rules prohibit most US companies from doing business in Syria. The waiver for Delta Crescent Energy was issued in April 2020, months after Trump announced that he wanted to keep some US troops in the oil-rich region to maintain control of the oil profits.
Trump’s “keep the oil” message is no longer US foreign policy under the Biden administration, and using the US military to facilitate Syrian oil production is deemed inappropriate, according to the official, who is not authorized to publicly discuss the decision and speaks on condition of anonymity.
The company was founded in 2019 by James Cain, US ambassador to Denmark under president George W. Bush; James Reese, a retired Army Delta Force officer; and John Dorrier Jr., a former executive with United Kingdom-based Gulfsands Petroleum. Cain, a onetime executive with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, has donated more than $30,000 to the Republican Party and GOP candidates over the years.
Northeastern Syria is the center for what remains of Syria’s oil industry. It is in shambles but remains one of the main sources of revenues for the Kurdish-led autonomous administration there.