Syria's state news agency says the oil ministry has signed a deal with Russian oil and gas company Soyuzneftegaz to explore in the Mediterranean Sea.SANA's report Wednesday did not say where the deal was signed, though it said the exploration will take place off the Syrian coast.Earlier this year, Syrian Oil Minister Suleiman Abbas discussed with the ambassadors of China and Russia the possibility of exploring for oil and gas off Syria's Mediterranean coast.Most of Syria's oil and gas fields in the country's east are under opposition control and the country's oil exports almost have stopped.Israel is already developing recent discoveries of massive offshore deposits and Lebanon has also spoken of trying to develop offshore fields.
The Syrian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources signed the "Amrit" contract with Russian company Soyuzneftegaz for offshore oil drilling, development and production in block no. 2 of Syria's territorial waters.
The contracts covers oil exploration in the area between Tartous city and Banyas city at a depth of 70 kilometers, covering an overall area of 2,190 square kilometers.
The contract stipulates for beginning with surveys in the area and preparing studies to pinpoint potential drilling sites, with this stage costing over USD 15 million.
The second stage will involve drilling at least one test well and it will cost over USD 75 million, and if the operations are successful, the company will carry out further drilling, development and production operations.
The contract also includes benefits such as training staff at the Syrian General Establishment of Petroleum to create a qualified Syrian workforce.
Soyuzneftegaz will be responsible for funding all the stages of the contract, and will begin operations immediately after the contract's ratification and publication.