Syria Moves Forward With Oil Exploration

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Syria has launched an oil exploration tender covering two blocs — its third tender this year. Oil Minister Ibrahim Haddad told a Damascus symposium on Dec. 17 that several foreign companies have won contracts to drill for Syrian crude, including Canada's Canargo, Croatian company Ina Naftalin, Royal Dutch/Shell and Australia's BHP. Damascus recently launched a tender for gas field developments in the central Palmyre region and for seismic studies related to offshore drilling in the Mediterranean Sea. Haddad told the symposium that feasibility studies for refiners in the central-western Dei Ezzor region are now in the final stages, as are studies concerning oil and gas pipelines linking eastern and western Syria. However, the threat of a U.S. invasion of Iraq means there is a risk that Syria's explorations could be interrupted.