Syria to Import First Gas From Azerbaijan in 2011, Deputy Minister Says

Syria will start importing natural gas from Azerbaijan next year, under a new agreement between the two nations, Syrian Deputy Minister of Oil Hasan Zainab said.

Syria will import about 3.5 million cubic meters of gas a day, Zainab said in a telephone interview from Damascus today. Syria and Azerbaijan signed a final agreement on technical details of the purchase during a visit by Syrian oil officials to Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, on Nov. 23.

Zainab expects imports to start by the end of 2011, though the exact date would depend on the completion of a pipeline between Syria and Turkey, through which the gas would be shipped, he said.

Infrastructure work on the Syrian portion of the pipeline is set for completion in March, while Turkey is due to finish preparations on its side of the border by the end of 2011, Zainab said. The pipeline would add to a regional network connecting Syria with Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Europe.

Syria currently imports around 1.5 million cubic meters of gas a day, all of it from Egypt, Zainab said.

The government expects to boost its production of both gas and oil this year and has raised its estimated gas reserves, Oil Minister Sufian Alao said on Nov. 22 in Damascus. He did not provide figures or details.

Syria had proven oil reserves of 2.5 billion barrels at the end of 2009 and is the smallest gas holder among the nine Middle Eastern countries listed in BP Plc’s statistical review for last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nayla Razzouk in Amman at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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