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Total, Eni Among 12 Companies Bidding for Syria Blocks

Total SA, Eni SpA, China National Petroleum Corp. and nine other companies submitted 14 bids for rights to explore eight oil blocks in Syria, Deputy Oil Minister Hassan Zainab said today.

Suncor Energy Inc., Canada’s largest oil company that operates in Syria as PetroCanada, U.K. explorer Gulfsands Petroleum Plc, Dallas-based Improved Petroleum Recovery, and other Swedish and Arabic companies also bid, he said in a telephone interview from Damascus.

Syria’s oil will run out within 18 years, according to its reserves-to-production ratio as calculated by BP Plc, and the country is trying to halt the decline in its output. The contracts cover exploration and production for oil blocks that extend over 40 percent of the nation’s territory, Zainab said Sept. 1.

“The offers will be opened next week and the announcement of the results of the bidding will be made in about two months,” Zainab said today.

The government also plans to offer contracts for offshore exploration in 2011, after having postponed the bidding from this year. It auctioned licenses for seven fields last year.

Syria’s crude production peaked at 583,000 barrels a day in 1996. Last year, it pumped 390,000 barrels and the government has forecast an output of 380,000 barrels a day this year.

Syria had proven oil reserves of 2.5 billion barrels at the end of 2009 and has the smallest gas deposits in the Middle East after Bahrain, according to BP’s Statistical Review.

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