Who can drive Russia out of the oil and gas sector in Syria?

The military-political situation in Syria has stabilized, and Russian companies have begun geological exploration work on the land and shelf of the Arab Republic. Representatives of the oil and gas sector expressed their readiness to participate in the restoration of the country’s energy infrastructure. What does Russia promise this partnership and who is able to prevent the implementation of the planned projects?

At the beginning of July, the Ministry of Energy of Russia reported that industry leaders showed interest in projects in Syria, including Zarubezhneft, Zarubezhgeologia (a subsidiary of Rosgeology), Tekhnopromexport (part of Rostekh) and STG engineering. They do not expect anything fundamentally new: the enterprises already have experience of working in the region.

For example, one of the Russian companies took the lead in the exploration of the Cyprus shelf a couple of years ago. So there is no doubt about success.

“We are interested in working with Syria and doing a number of works. But while we are at the initial stage of negotiations, “- said Anton Sergeyev, the official representative of Rosgeology, RIA Novosti.

Not only intelligence is involved.

However, Russian companies are not going to be limited to reconnaissance alone. This is not only about the ongoing geological exploration work, but also about the restoration of the entire energy infrastructure of the country: oil refineries (refineries), pipelines and thermal power plants.

“Russia has created infrastructure in the north-east of Africa, in particular in Libya. We have a very large experience in the construction of pipelines and we have successfully applied it in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. If no additional military cataclysms occur, then in two or three years we can restore them in Syria, “said Vitaly Bushuev, Director General of the Institute for Energy Strategy.

It is worth noting that if there are no specific information on pipelines and refineries, then Russia and Syria have already been hit by the repair of the thermal power plant. Before the war, the republic’s power grid was one of the most developed and powerful in the region. Now more than half of the stations do not work. So the main goal at this stage is to supply electricity to the homes of millions of people.

“Memoranda of understanding between Syria and Russia on the restoration of Syrian power plants have been signed. For example – a thermal power plant in Aleppo, you need to run a second, third and fourth generators. We will also study the possibility of launching two steam generators to generate 700 MW, “said Syria’s Electric Power Minister Zuhair Harbutli in an interview with Sputnik Arabic.

Strategic Plan.

If we take into account only statistics, Russia’s interest in Syrian oil and gas projects is not entirely clear. According to BP, published in last year’s report, the explored oil reserves in the country are only 2.5 billion barrels, and natural gas – 0.3 trillion cubic meters. For comparison: in Iran, the corresponding figures are 158.4 billion barrels and 33.5 trillion cubic meters.

However, these are only explored reserves, with which there are quite serious problems around the world. In particular, analysts of the US investment company Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in early July, announced a catastrophic decline in investment of leading oil producers in the exploration of new deposits over the past 20 years. As a result, stocks on average decreased by 30%.

The approach of Russian companies to the oil and gas sector of Syria is a strategic plan designed not only to restore the destroyed economy of the Arab Republic, but also to receive huge profits from this for decades. And already at this stage it is possible to talk about quite concrete prospects: several years ago in the Mediterranean Sea, probably found the world’s largest natural gas reserves. Territorial access to them, among other countries, is also in Syria.

Of course, such large-scale work requires serious investments, and the government of the Arab Republic does not have such funds. So the burden of financing, apparently, will fall on the shoulders of Russian companies. However, this does not mean at all that after the implementation of the projects, all they have left is to smear Syrian thanks on bread.

“We will restore, and the Syrians will pay us part of the oil produced from the fields that will be commissioned,” RIA Novosti professor Vladimir Isaev, a professor at the Institute of Asian and African countries of the Moscow State University, told RIA Novosti.

Recall how the foreign policy environment is now developing, directly in proportion to the successes of domestic companies in the Syrian oil and gas sector, attempts by other countries to drive out Russia from there will intensify. First of all, this concerns international oil and gas giants.

Undoubtedly, they will try to integrate their business into Syria after the war is over. But it is unlikely that the government of the Arab Republic will accept them with open arms. Too fresh are the memories of the demarche of Shell and Total, who left the country in December 2011 against the backdrop of heightened rhetoric of Western leaders against a legitimate government. But even friendly countries are unlikely to “move” Russia. Most likely, they will take up more familiar projects for themselves.

The first on this list is China with its huge investment potential: “Beijing has no experience, because the entire oil refining industry was created by the USSR. China will build roads, contracts have been signed there, as well as the restoration of agriculture or, for example, textile factories, “Vladimir Isayev said.