EU sanctions on Syria have not only affected the Syrian government, but also backfired and undermined European companies, Syrian authorities said, as various reports continue to suggest that the country's oil output has dived, leading to oil losses amounting to trillions of Syrian pounds. Data, recently issued by the Syrian Oil Ministry and published by the Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper, showed that foreign companies operating in the oil sector lost about 6.4 billion U.S. dollars since the beginning of the Syrian crisis to the end of 2013. While the report did not detail the indirect losses, it said that initial estimates of the oil sector's direct losses up to the end of 2013 amounted to about 2.8 billion dollars, 31 percent of which were the losses of the operating production companies in Syria (approximately 880 million dollars). The data showed that the value of revenue missed due to the cessation of production processes for the entire oil sector is estimated at 16.6 billion dollars. According to a recent statement made by the Syrian Oil Minister Suleiman al-Abbas, oil production fell recently by about 96 percent compared to that before the crisis. "Production dropped from 385,000 barrels per day to 14,000 barrels which was the main lifeline for the Syrian government before the crisis." He stressed that the current crisis experienced by Syria has led to significant damage to the oil industry and created a difficulties for everyday Syrians, blaming Western sanctions and the withdraw of foreign companies for the sharp drop. Syrians are suffering from a lack of fuel, such as gasoline and cooking gas, and this has triggered a sharp rise in black market prices, prompting the government to import oil from friendly countries, mainly Iran. Before the outbreak of the crisis, Syria produced about 380,000 barrels and exporting around 130,000 barrels a day, while using the surplus for domestic use. However, oil is now increasingly at risk in the conflict- stricken country as the main oil fields are located in rebel-held areas in northeast Syria. Recent media reports said that 40,000 oil barrels were stolen on a daily basis. At the beginning of the conflict, the EU has slapped Syria with harsh economic sanctions including an embargo on purchasing or transporting Syrian oil and prohibiting companies from dealing with Syria or investing in it, in addition to withdrawing experts and staff, suspending funding, and imposing sanctions on Syrian petroleum companies. Syria has said the economic sanctions slapped on the country by the EU and U.S. are "unjust." Syria's civilians have been hard hit by the conflict that has already killed more than 100,000 people since opposition protesters first sought the ouster of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.