Total seeks Syrian oil block PSA extension

Eric Watkins
Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 2 -- Total SA Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie will accompany French president Nicolas Sarkozy on a state visit to Syria this week, aiming to negotiate the extension of an oil block agreement.
A spokesperson for the French firm said De Margerie wants Syria to extend the existing production-sharing agreement for the Deir Ezzor area in the northwestern part of the country by 10 years to 2021 from 2011.

Discussions between the two sides began in early April over the current agreement, signed in 1988, which allows Total to produce some 30,000 b/d of oil at Deir Ezzor.

At the time, Syrian Oil Minister Sufian Al Alao said the government wanted to boost oil production levels by awarding exploration contracts to international companies.

His statement came just days after Syria signed an agreement with China National Petroleum Corp. to build a 100,000-b/d refinery in the same region as the Total concession.

"The refinery would process heavy crude oil produced in Deir Ezzor area," the oil minister told a news conference on the sidelines of an oil and gas show held in Damascus.

CNPC would own 85% of the refinery, while Syria would own the rest, he said. Syria would buy products from the refinery, he added without saying how much the refinery would cost.

Al Alao also said plans were proceeding on another refinery at Deir Ezzor having a processing capacity of 140,000 b/d. It is set to be built jointly with Kuwait's Noor Investment Group.

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