Syria has contracted a Russian petroleum company to conduct offshore oil and gas exploration.

The deal grants SoyuzNefteGaz the right to drill exploration wells and extract oil from the area, according to the contract signed with the Syrian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. SoyuzNefteGaz will investment about $100 million into the geological exploration and test drilling.

"It's about exploration of oil deposits and possible mining,” said Mikhail Krutikhin, a partner of the consulting RusEnergy agency, adding that SoyuzNefteGaz is a small company.“However, there is no certainty that the result will be impressive. Especially given the fact that the past experience of exploration of the 12th block yielded no results.”

This is not the company’s first project in Syria. In 2004, SoyuzNefteGaz received an exploration license for blocks 12 and 14. Subsequently, activities were focused on block 12. In particular, the PSA was signed for exploration and production of hydrocarbons. Two exploration wells were drilled, but no commercial reserves of hydrocarbons in block 12 have been discovered yet.

SoyuzNefteGaz is a closed joint-stock company established in 2000 with the participation of Western investment and financial partners.The company was created to expand the economic cooperation between the Commonwealth of Independent States countries, the Middle East and North Africa through projects of geological exploration, development of oil and gas deposits, servicing of oil and gas enterprises, and the supply of equipment.