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MarketWatch: Shell bids for two new blocks in Syria

Shell bids for two new blocks in Syria
Last Update: 7:14 AM ET May 12, 2006

LONDON (MarketWatch) — Anglo-Dutch major Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) has submitted bids for two exploration blocks in Syria's current bidding round and is awaiting the result, a company spokesman said Thursday.
Syrian petroleum minister Sufian al-Alao told Dow Jones Newswires last month that Shell had a good chance of winning the blocks.
“Shell gave us the best conditions and a final decision will be made by the end of May,” he said. The blocks are located in the south-east of Syria, near the Iraqi border, he added.
The terms of the license would be about seven years and the company should spend $50 million on oil and gas exploration, al-Alao said.
He added Shell has had a presence in Syria for 20 years. The country produces 415,000 barrels per day of crude oil, with France's Total SA (TOT) among the other European producers in Syria.
The European majors' continued interest in the Middle East country comes as some U.S. companies are either moving out, or are considering a pullout.
ConocoPhillips (COP) and Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) have already exited Syria, while earlier this week Marathon Oil Co. (MRO) signed a deal with Syria to resolve a long-standing contract dispute, a step that could allow it to withdraw.
In May 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush banned all U.S. exports to Syria, except for food and medicine, in accordance with the Syria Accountability Act. The 2004 sanctions require federal permits to export most oil field technology to Syria.
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