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MarketWatch: Syria aims to maintain output at 400,000 barrels a day

June 1, 2006

CARACAS (MarketWatch) Syria aims to maintain it petroleum output at around 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the years ahead by awarding new exploration blocks and raising recovery from existing fields, the country’s petroleum minister said Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of an Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting here, Sufian al-Alao said he expected to award Blocks 13 and 15 in Western Syrian to Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) in around a month.

He also said Syria was in discussions to award Block 7 to a Ukrainian oil company.
Syria’s output has declined from around 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the mid 1990s.

Al-Alao told Dow Jones Newswires earlier this year that Shell had a good chance of winning the blocks. The terms of the license would be about seven years and the company should spend $50 million on oil and gas exploration, al-Alao said.

European majors such as Shell and Total SA (TOT) are continuing to show interest in the Middle East country despite some U.S. companies either moving out or considering a pullout.

ConocoPhillips (COP) and Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) have already exited Syria, while earlier this week Marathon Oil Co. (MRO) signed a deal with Syria to resolve a long-standing contract dispute, a step that could allow it to withdraw.

In May 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush banned all U.S. exports to Syria, except for food and medicine, in accordance with the Syria Accountability Act. The 2004 sanctions require federal permits to export most oil field technology to Syria.

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