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Russia signs oil exploration agreement with Syria

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Staff writer ▼ | December 30, 2013
Syria oilThe Russian state-owned Soyuzneftegaz oil and gas company signed an agreement with the Syrian government for offshore oil and gas drilling, development, and production.

The agreement defies European Union and United States efforts to crush the Syrian government and its people through the imposition of destructive unilateral economic sanctions, which the Russian government charges are violations of international law.

Under the 25-year contract, the first-ever-granted for oil and gas exploration in Syrian territorial waters, the Russian company will assume the costs of exploration in the offshore waters between the cities of Tartous and Banyas, which it will recover should oil and gas be discovered in commercial quantities.

Soyuzneftegaz will also be responsible for training Syrian staff at the Syrian General Establishment of Petroleum, according to SANA news agency.

Soyuzneftegaz "will not follow the unfair economic sanctions imposed on oil fields especially, as well as on all economic sectors in Syria," Syrian Oil Minister Suleiman al-Abbas told reporters after the signing, and will start work soon.

EU sanctions, in particular, have targetted oil produced by the government; the EU modified its sanctions last April to specifically permit oil shipments from jihadi-controlled areas. Between those sanctions and the war's effect on the nation's infrastructure, Syria's oil production has fallen by 90% since March 2011, and gas production is down by almost by half, according to RT.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov today reiterated Russia's principled opposition to any such unilaterally imposed sanctions, stating that "we believe that passing unilateral sanctions without the UN Security Council's approval should be illegal, as it breaches international laws."

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