Syrian Opposition Condemns Russian Oil Deal

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Syria’s opposition has condemned the signing last week of Syria’s first-ever offshore oil exploration deal with Russia, claiming oil blocks are being swapped for weapons to attack rebel forces. Syria signed the agreement last week with Russian oil and gas company SoyuzNefteGaz for joint oil exploration off the Mediterranean coast, in Syria’s part of the prolific Levant Basin, according to Syrian, Russian, and Iranian state news agencies.

“The Coalition condemns the signing of this deal, which aims to swap the riches of our homeland for Russian weapons destined to kill the Syrian people,” the Syrian National Council said in a statement. SoyuzNefteGaz — created in 2000 with an eye on joint ventures in the Middle East and Africa — will reportedly finance the $90 million project in Syria. If test drilling confirms commercial scale reserves of oil and gas, SoyuzNefteGaz will build the necessary infrastructure for development and extraction.

The contract is for oil exploration and production in Block 2 of Syria’s territorial water, which stretches from the shore of the coastal city of Tartous to the city of Banyas and covers 2,190 square kilometers. The contract will enter into effect immediately despite U.S. and European sanctions against Syria.

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