The Syrian parliament has approved contracts for oil exploration with two Russian companies in an effort to boost production hit by more than eight years of war and Western sanctions, Oil & Gas Eurasia reports.
Syria’s State news agency SANA said the deals between Damascus and Moscow cover exploration and production in three blocs, including an oilfield in northeast Syria and a gas field north of the capital Damascus.
It said the contracts, passed in a Syrian parliament session shortly after New Year, were signed earlier this year with two Russian firms it identified as Mercury LLC and Velada LLC.
Syrian Oil Minister Ali Ghanem said handing contracts to these companies was in line with the government’s strategy “towards friendly states that stood by Syria, with Russia and Iran at the forefront.”
The Arab country’s strongman president Bashar al-Assad has looked to allies Russia and Iran to play a role in rebuilding, after they helped Syria’s army reclaim most of the country.
The war-torn country produced around 380,000 barrels of oil per day before the conflict but production collapsed after fighting hit the oil-rich east. Oil fields have largely been in the hands of Kurdish fighters who seized swathes of north and east Syria from Islamic State with U.S. help.
Syrian state media cited Ghanem as saying the oil ministry would seek to sign offshore contracts for oil investment which has been hindered by economic sanctions.
Meanwhile, Lebanon is preparing for its first-ever maritime oil and gas exploration in early 2020 in Block 4 off the coast of Beirut, as Ricardo Darré, General Manager of Total E&P Liban, told LOGI that the results of the drill should be clear by June.
French giant Total heads up the consortium which also includes Russia’s Novatek and Italy’s ENI that in 2018 signed contracts to drill in two Lebanese maritime zones, Block 4 and Block 9.