Damascus: Widespread blackouts have caused economic losses of around $2.2 billion  (Dh8 billion) for Syria nearly two years into a spiralling conflict, electricity minister Emad Khamis has said.

“Economic damage suffered as a result of power blackouts caused by acts of sabotage ([by rebels] have totalled some 2.8 billion Syrian pounds,” or $2.2 billion, state news agency Sana quoted Khamis as saying on Tuesday.

“The vital electricity sector has been sabotaged by the terrorists,” said the minister, using the regime’s term to describe rebels fighting President Bashar Al Assad’s regime.

According to Sana, the minister also said some 87 power sector workers were killed, 157 wounded and 29 kidnapped from March 2011 to the end of 2012.

Khamis, meanwhile, said an absence of funding by Western countries for electricity projects was to blame for a halt in construction of new power stations.

The minister said financing by the European Investment Bank for construction on the Deir Ali power station extension, south of Damascus, has come to a halt.

Also on hold is construction work on the Deir Al Zor power station, in eastern Syria.

Electricity production has halved ever since the eruption of an anti-regime revolt on March 15, 2011, as a result of fuel shortages and insecurity affecting oil and gas transportation, state media recently reported.