Syria begins licensing round for offshore blocks

Syria's Oil Minister Sufian Al Alao and Syria Petroleum Co. General Manager Omar Al Hamad were in London in late June to promote Syria's first offshore licensing round, where four blocks covering 50, 000 sq km are available for lease.

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

LONDON, June 29 -- Syria's Oil Minister Sufian Al Alao and Syria Petroleum Co. General Manager Omar Al Hamad were in London in late June to promote Syria's first offshore licensing round, where four blocks covering 50, 000 sq km are available for lease. The deadline for applications is Sept. 27.

The selected blocks are in different petroleum basins where the expected potential for petroleum resources is "very high," said the Syrian petroleum ministry (OGJ Online, May 31, 2007).

The basins off Syria are the Levantine basin to the south, the Levantine basin to the north, the Iskenderun basin to the north and entering into Turkey territory, and the Cyprus basin, mostly off Cyprus.

Asked the status of talks between Syria and Turkey regarding maritime boundaries and how such discussions might affect licensing rounds, Al Alao said the two countries are friends. "We have selected acreage within Syria's territorial waters," adding that the foreign minister is having discussions with Turkey about border issues.

Most of the recent exploration in Syria has resulted in natural gas discoveries. Major gas projects under development in central Syria are Petro-Canada's Ash Shaer and Cherrife fields, which will produce an estimated 80 MMcfd of gas in 2010.

Life-of-field production from Ash Shaer and Cherrife is estimated at 500 bcf of gas equivalent over the 25-year contract.

Development is under way, and Petro-Canada has begun drilling another area, Al Hamad said.

Petro-Canada hopes that its appraisal wells will identify upside gas, which could double the initial life-of-field estimate and expand production capacity after initial start-up. Capital investment for the project is expected to be $460-660 million.

Syria also is looking at developing 2,000 Mw of wind power and has received bids for that work. The use of biofuels is being discussed, but Syria would have difficulty sourcing food crops, Al Alao added.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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