Europe is being caught between a rock and a hard place as unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa begins to affect oil imports. When Libya's production was reduced by about 1 million barrels per day, Saudi Arabia was able to step up and increase production to pick up the slack. The latest sanctions on Syria won't be as easy to make up.
The European Union recently banned imports from Syria to increase pressure on Bashar al-Assad's repressive regime. Exports from Syria were estimated to be $4.5 billion in 2010, and 95% of crude oil exports go to EU countries.
This will have an impact on Total
Changing business mid-stream
Oil companies have long been perceived as being in business with shady world characters to get oil profits. BP
As for Syria, it could be months or years before Total and Royal Dutch Shell return to normal business there. The conflict has already been going on for months, showing no signs of ending any time soon. Sanctions may hurt the people in power, but they're also having an impact on businesses around the world. And the EU is losing some of its largest oil partners.
Interested in reading more about these oil companies? Add your favorites to My Watchlist, which will find all of our Foolish analysis on a given stock.