Syria Likely to Award Some Onshore Blocks in Feb-Minister

RIYADH (Dow Jones Newswires), Feb. 22, 2011

The Syrian government will award contracts to explore, develop and produce hydrocarbons from eight onshore blocks later this month, said the country's oil minister.

"We have already closed the bid round, looked at the results and some of the contracts will be awarded later this month," Sufian Alaw told Dow Jones Newswires.

Syria had earlier extended the deadline for the bid round to Dec. 8 from Sept. 15, to give companies more time to prepare their bids.

The ministry offered production-sharing contracts to explore blocks 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 14, 16 and 18, located mostly on the eastern and northern parts of the country, with a total area of 74,000 square kilometers.

The country will also tender four offshore oil exploration blocks in February, Alaw said.

Syria aims to boost its crude oil production, which has declined from 590,000 barrels a day in 2006 to 380,000 barrels a day currently.

Its natural gas production stands at 25 million cubic meters a day. International oil companies such as Shell, Total, and China National Petroleum Corp., U.K.-incorporated energy company Gulfsands Petroleum, Russia's Tatneft and India's ONGC Videsh are already working on oil and gas projects in the country.

The minister spoke on the sidelines of a gathering of oil ministers in Saudi Arabia's capital.

About 90 countries will sign a charter by the International Energy Forum Tuesday, pledging to continue dialogue between producer and consumer countries. The meeting's participants represent over 90% percent of global oil and gas supply and demand.

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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