US oil firms keen on business with “terror sponsoring” Syria
Despite a recent US decision to revive an economic sanction campaign against Syria, American oil firms have not been deterred from pursuing business in the country. Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy has confirmed this by signing a $17 million deal this week, acquiring exploration rights in northeastern Syria.
Syria is one of seven countries blacklisted by the US as a State Sponsor of Terrorism; a label that would, as a rule, prohibit American companies from transferring advanced technology to the state.
Contrary to this regulation, Devon and partner Gulfsands will be operators of Syria’s Block 26, committed to conducting geologic and geophysical studies, acquiring seismic data and drilling four exploration wells.
Block 26 covers an area of more than 11,000 square kilometers. Signed with the Syrian government and the Syrian Petroleum Company, the partnership focuses on exploration around areas with proven reserves. “It could, over time, expand to include cooperation between Syrian Petroleum Company and Devon on additional development and production enhancement projects in the area,” said president of Devon, James T. Hackett.
Senior officials at Devon stated that the firm had not received objections to the renewable 25-year agreement from the US administration, reported Daily Star.
Last month US Democratic and Republican congressmen agreed to revive a campaign to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria. The proposal signals an aggressive new American effort to force Syria to abandon its occupation of Lebanon, support of terrorism and suspected possession of weapons of unconventional weapons.
According to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the reason why Syria is being targeted now is that there is a "changed situation" and "a new dynamic" in the Middle East following the liberation of Iraq. "We wanted to point out strongly to the Syrians that this is a time for you to take another look at your policies," Powell said.
Allegations of Syrian involvement with terrorist groups have been a longstanding point of contention between Washington and Damascus. In addition to general sanctions imposed on Syria, specific provisions in foreign assistance appropriations enacted since 1981 have barred Syria from receiving US aid.
The US administration has also imposed detailed trade restrictions on exports to Syria. At present, the US Department of Commerce lists 31 categories of exports requiring a validated license for shipment including aircraft, vessels, most vehicles, parts, machine tools, computer equipment, and other high technology goods. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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