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SYRIA - Part 2 - The Oil & Gas Fields:.

The total crude oil production capacity in Syria is 550,000 b/d, having peaked at 615,000 b/d in 1994. But since late 2003 the operators have been struggling to produce at this level as several major oilfields have been declining rapidly despite enhanced oil recovery (EOR) systems installed in most of the structures. The decline, being managed by the foreign operators, has been limited since the state-owned Syrian Petroleum Co. (SPC) in 2002/03 redeveloped some its own fields in the north-east of the country. Syria could become a net importer of oil, as it was until the mid-1980s, if no major discoveries are made during this decade.

Shell, the main operator in the country, had warned in early 1998 that if no significant oil finds were made in a few years, Syria could return to being a net importer by 2005. By 1998, all the major producing oilfields in Syria had reached their plateau and most of them had begun a steady but managed decline since early 1996, after a very costly blow-out at a field.

A number of foreign oil companies have left Syria in recent years, due to tough E&P terms by SPC. Little exploration was done until mid-1996, when Nader Nabulsi was dismissed as oil minister and was replaced by Mohammed Maher Jamal. But Jamal, a geologist, was in late 2001 replaced by a figure with no experience in the petroleum industry.

Unlike companies elsewhere, the operators in Syria are not allowed to lift or market crude oils they produce. All the output is sold to SPC at prices set by the latter, and the crude oils are marketed by Sytrol which is under the control of the prime minister's office (see Part 3).

The Shell-operated system - consisting of Al Furat Petroleum Co. (AFPC), Al Badiya Oil Co. (BOC) and Al Bishri Petroleum Co. (BPC) - is by far the biggest oil producer in Syria. In January 1996 it began a five-year cutback schedule with its output then set to fall by 10,000 b/d per annum. But the actual rate of decline increased in the subsequent years, despite rapid development of small oilfields discovered by Shell. No major oil discoveries have been made in the past 12 years and even fields on stream since the mid-1990s have reached their plateau (see profiles on following pages & in Gas Market Trends).

The decline in oil output has been partly offset by a rise in production of natural gas used for domestic energy. The shift to natural gas has limited the growth of domestic oil consumption.

 1994 Mar 2000 Mar 2002 Mar 2004
AFPC/BOC/BPC (Shell) 405,000 340,000 300,000 300,000
Syrian Petroleum Co. (SPC) 150,000 140,000 140,000 165,000
DEZPC (Total) 60,000 60,000 67,000 80,000
Al Khabour Oil Co.* -- 2,000 2,000 5,000
Total 615,000 542,000 509,000 550,000

*Al Khabour's Kishma oilfield went on stream in mid-1997.
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Publication:APS Review Oil Market Trends
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Mar 8, 2004
Previous Article:SYRIA - The Geology Of Syria.
Next Article:SYRIA - The SPC Fields.

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