MONTREAL — Top Canadian oil group Suncor Energy said Sunday it plans to withdraw its workers from Syria and cancel supply contracts in the wake of European Union sanctions on the country.
Natural gas operations with the General Petroleum Corporation were suspended. Suncor said it would remove its expatriate workers while keeping its Syrian employees.
Suncor is "determining how we can best support Syrian employees during this extremely difficult time for their country," it said in a statement.
The United States, European Union and Arab League have stepped up economic and political pressure on Syria to end a brutal crackdown on dissent that has left more than 4,000 people dead during months marred by violence.
Suncor did not adjust its total production targets for this year in part because of an increase in production in Libya, which has stabilized after a brutal conflict that ousted longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi.
"We've been monitoring developments in the region very closely during the last several months, and we've always been clear that we would comply with all relevant sanctions imposed on the country," said Suncor chief executive Rick George.
"The current situation in Syria is very concerning, and our thoughts are with the Syrian people as we hope for a return to peace as soon as possible."
When Ottawa imposed sanctions on Damascus in early October, Suncor had said its operations in Syria were not affected because they served to provide gas for electricity for Syria's internal needs, not exports, which were targeted by the Canadian sanctions.
And top Canadian diplomat John Baird said at the time that halting Suncor's gas production would not have favored the reforms sought by the West in Syria.
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