Syrian Oil in Russian Hands
Enab Baladi Issue # 97 – Sun, Dec. 29, 2013
On Wednesday, December 25th, the Syrian regime’s government had passed a considerable agreement with a Russian company to prospect for oil and gas in the Syrian territorial waters. The prospecting process covers an area of 2190 square kilometers.
As reported by France-press agency, “in the ministry of oil and mineral resources, a contract for maritime oil prospecting, development and production in the Syrian territorial waters has been signed between the Syrian government; represented by the Minister of Oil; Suleiman Abbas and the General Petroleum Corporation, Inc. Soyoznafta Russian gas”.
This contract is considered the first of its kind, since it includes prospecting for oil and gas in the Syrian waters which extends over 25 years, and is funded by Moscow; the Ally of Alassad’s regime.
In a speech during the signing ceremony, Suleiman Abbas, the Minister of oil said; “this project extends over 25 years and will be executed through several stages”. He also added “the cost of prospecting and exploration is estimated at 100 million U.S.D”. The minister yet has not specified the total cost of the contract.
On the other hand, and according to a statement issued by the Syrian coalition on Thursday December26th, “signing the prospecting agreement is to be condemned and considered a mere cover for “swapping the country’s wealth for weapons”.
As reported in the statement, “the national coalition for the forces of revolution and the Syrian opposition condemns Alassad’s signing an oil prospecting contract with Soyoznafta, a Russian gas company, in the Syrian territorial waters; as it is meant to swap the country’s underground resources for getting Russian weapons to kill the Syrian people”. Moreover, as reported in the statement “the fact that it is one of the most important energy contracts in the region signed by a Russian company with a criminal regime reveals that the Russian government stands behind passing this deal in conditions of constant tension and fighting. This clearly shows that the Russian government strongly supports providing the regime with more weapons to kill the Syrian people”.
On the international reactions on this agreement, Vincent Floriana; the spokesman of the French Foreign Ministry has declared that the Syrian-Russian agreement on oil prospecting is not covered by the sanctions imposed by the EU on Syria, stressing that the Union is not in a position to influence this agreement.
The spokesman of the French Foreign Ministry added that searching for a political solution of the Syrian crisis is one of the priorities of Paris; a solution that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. He also pointed to the need to put pressure on the Syrian authorities to stop the bombing of areas where civilians settle.
It is worth noting that the economic sanctions imposed by the European on the Assad regime had largely targeted the oil sector which in turn affected production rating that decreased by 90% since mid- March 2011, according to a statement issued by the regime’s government in August last year.
Translated by: Rahaf Abbar