Syria - The Cenozoic.
The sequence is known as the "Palmyra Marl Group", with the Jaddala Fm making up the Eocene portion. Extensive development of chert occurs in parts of the Lower-Middle Eocene portions of the group, such as the Araq flint.
Lower Eocene volcanics were developed in the Aleppo area. The Eocene in other parts of Syria is in a neritic, partly reefoid and partly argillaceous, facies reaching maximum development in Lebanon's Beqa' plateau. The Upper Eocene extends from the Palmyrid area into north-western Iraq, across the Jabal Sinjar trough.
The Oligocene is missing from much of Syria, restricted to the north-west and across the Palmyrid Basin and close to Damascus. It is mainly in a limestone facies. In the east Palmyrids, at Jabal Bishri, it is developed in a sandy facies, which includes conglomerate layers, sourced from the Rutbah High.
The Upper Eocene and Oligocene were the times of uplift of the coastal mountains of Lebanon and Syria, as well as much of anti-Lebanon and the Syrian interior. Later cut off were the Tethyan sea-way along northern Syria and southern Turkey, into north-western Iraq, with arms extending into the Palmyrids of central Syria.
A renewed transgression in the Late Oligocene and Early Miocene across the northern region left behind some pelagics and limestones. The Miocene, mainly a time of shallow and often restricted deposition, brought the Lower Fars Fm over northern Syria. This included wide-spread anhydrites.
By the Upper Miocene, the northern sea-way had filled up with Upper Fars clastics, dumped from the rising land as Arabia drifted northwards and partly closed the intervening sea area. During the Pliocene, molasse was deposited all the way from north-western Syria into northern Iraq.
The link between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean through the Tethyan sea-way and the Persian Gulf was severed. A Messinian salinity crisis in the Mediterranean and Red Sea areas restricted marine Neogene deposits to limited ingressions into the edge of the mountain range, with Lower Miocene carbonates transgressing onto older deposits.
Messinian evaporites have been found in the Latakia area and in the sub-surface of the Lebanese-Syrian littoral border region.
A limited Pliocene marine ingression followed, which quickly turned into continental facies inter-fingering with basalts in the Tripoli-Hums area and parts of coastal Syria. In the interior, along the Levant Fracture System, lacustrine and continental deposits marked the Neogene.
Conclusion: Provided that E&P terms are improved, having been less attractive than in neighbouring countries, more wide-spread exploration in Syria should bear good results, with both the onshore and offshore prospects to be pursued. There could be interesting discoveries resulting also from re-exploration in drilled areas.
A concentrated look into pre-Cenozoic horizons can be rewarding in view of Syria's tectonic background, although the costs would be high. E&P costs worldwide have risen sharply since late 2002, with global market prices of crude oil now being quite low.
So far, IOCs have concentrated on areas known to have high possibilities. Because terms under exploration and production sharing agreements (EPSAs) still were not attractive enough for big IOCs to bear high risks before the war, the pattern in E&P is not likely to change even if peace-time. The signature bonus which the oil ministry usually demanded for exploration permits will have to be lowered after the civil war ends, if Syria remains united as a country.
The Offshore Prospects: Off Syria's Mediterranean coast facing Cyprus, there are areas believed to contain oil and gas. Although Damascus in late 2007 was disappointed with the result of its first offshore E&P bidding round, as only one of the four blocks offered was taken, the prospects there remain promising. APS Energy Group geologists say that, if Plio-Pleistocene and Paleozoic reservoirs similar to the gas-rich Fms in Egypt's Nile Delta and Mediterranean economic zone are found on Syrian waters, then this country could eventually become a major producer of natural gas.
All the countries in the East Mediterranean are now looking into such prospects offshore. This follows major gas discoveries made off Egypt, off the Gaza Strip, off Israel and off Cyprus.
InSeisTerra, a seismic survey company of Norway, has done a thorough study of the offshore area. Under an exclusive 10-year agreement with the SPC and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources (MPMR), the firm in early May 2005 began a seismic shoot.
The work of InSeisTerra covered the acquisition, processing and interpretation of non-exclusive 2D/3D seismic data, covering the entire Syrian offshore sector (see the background in gmt10SyriaGeoMar6-06).