Syria Plans to Offer Oil E&P to US, UK, Canadian Companies

BEIRUT, Jan 16, 2007 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex)

Syria is preparing to offer new offshore and onshore blocks to international oil companies, including American, Canadian and British firms, an official said Tuesday.

"Following the oil minister's announcement Jan. 12 of the intention to unveil new blocks for oil and gas exploration, Syria will not limit the tender bids to any particular country and will also offer it to countries like the U.S., Canada and the U.K.," Farouk Joud, vice president of the Lattakia Chamber of Commerce & Industry, told Zawya Dow Jones.

Joud, who is also a board member of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce, said the country's rush to open new blocks for exploration is not only due to a fall in oil production but also because of its strategy to open up its economy.

Syria's current oil production in 2006 was about 400,000 barrels per day compared with 600,000 bpd in 1996, according government reports.

"Syria is now opening up its financial, real estate and industrial sectors to attract investments from international investors, and now we are deepening our relations with Canada whereby we are going to launch a Syrian-Canadian Business Council," Joud said.

Joud, who will be a board member in the council, said the organization expects to launch its activities in the near future and is awaiting the Syrian authorities to issue its license.

He said the creation of the council is "clear evidence" of the interest by several Canadian oil firms to establish a foothold in Syria, but he refused to name the Canadian companies.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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