Syria Inks Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling Deal with Russian Company

After several months of negotiations, Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ministry signed on Wednesday an offshore oil and gas drilling contract with the Russian 'Soyuzneftegas' company.  

The 'Amrit' contract provides for carrying out surveys for oil and gas drilling in a total area of 2190 square kilometers stretching from south Tartous shore to Banias city.

The Russian side will cover the expenses of the stages of the works which are estimated at $90 million, according to the contract which contains a package of advantages related to training the Syrian cadres through allocating annual sums as non-refundable outlays for this purpose.

The contract clarified that at least one exploration well will be dug and the Russian company will carry out development and production works if drilling is successful.

The company is to start the work immediately after ratifying the contract and publishing it in the state-run newspapers.

 'A big challenge'  

The official news agency quoted Minister of Petroleum and Mineral resources Eng. Suleiman al-Abbas as saying: "The final formula of the contract was reached  following several months of negotiations between the General Petroleum Company and the Russian one. We are sure that the Russian company will use cutting edge technology in oil industry and it will adopt policies that preserve safety as the site of work is near cities and tourist establishments."

"The contract comes within the fruitful cooperation between the Russian companies and the national petroleum ones for the common interest of the friendly peoples of the two countries" the minister added.

He asserted that the contract is a big challenge due to the current circumstances in Syria. "It [the contract] will encourage companies in the friendly countries, especially in Russia, to come to Syria to carry out investments and oil and gas drilling," al-Abbas added.

He cited that all the Russian companies working in the field of oil and gas in Syria have not stopped their works despite the circumstances the country is going through.

Syria's oil production has reportedly slipped from 386.000 barrels per day to just 15.000 in the past 26 months because of international decisions, the seizure of most oil fields by gunmen and the acts of vandalism as well as opening the Turkish markets for the stolen oil.

The country's oil sector has been targeted as its revenues provide around a quarter of the funds of the national economy.


Basma Qaddour