September 6, 2008

Syria, France Sign Agreements on Oil, Gas, Transport Cooperation

Text of report by state-run Syrian news agency SANA website

["Signing of Seven Agreements and Protocols for Cooperation Between Syria and France" - SANA headline]

Damascus (SANA) - Syria and France yesterday evening signed seven agreements, memorandums of understanding, and protocols for cooperation in the fields of oil, gas, electricity, and railways.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the General Establishment for Electrical Power Generation and the company (MAN Diesel France) for cooperation in building a diesel-powered generating station with a capacity of 210 megawatts, in addition to signing a memorandum of understanding between the Syrian Company for Electrical and Communication Works and the French company (JFA) for cooperation in building a generating station with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

A protocol for cooperation and a memorandum of understanding were also signed between the French company Alstom and the General Establishment for Electrical Energy Generation and Transmission and the General Establishment for Railways.

The agreement for extending the period of development and adjusting production sharing 88 [number as published; presumably 1988], which was signed between the Syrian Oil Company and Total Company for Exploration and Production in Syria, included extending the contract signed with Total Company for developing oil and gas fields in Syria for 10 years, after amending some of the conditions of the contract. These conditions allowed increasing Syria's share of revenues through setting a ceiling for oil prices when dividing profits, in addition to paying an extension premium as a social contribution and solving some of the outstanding problems.

The framework agreement for joint cooperation, which was signed between the Syrian Gas Company and the Syrian Oil Company on the one hand and Total Company for Exploration and Production in Syria and Total Company for Exploration, Production, and Oil Activities on the other, is aimed at enhancing joint cooperation and setting up strategic partnerships that allow developing joint ventures between the Syrian companies and Total Company, as well as creating joint job opportunities in exploration, production, and gas projects inside and outside Syrian territories.

Abdallah al-Dardari, deputy prime minister for economic affairs, said that the signing of these agreements marks the beginning of a new stage in the relations of economic cooperation between Syria and France. He noted that all these agreements are within the context of the 10th five-year [development] plan, its projects, and programmes.

Al-Dardari noted that the signed agreements will help in removing all the obstacles that existed between the Syrian and French companies and establishments. He said that the agreement, which is scheduled to be signed between the Syrian Air Corporation and the French company Airbus, is about to be completed and that a high- level delegation from the French company will arrive in Damascus next week to finalize and sign it.

For his part, French Ambassador in Damascus Michel Duclos has expressed his pleasure with the developments that occurred in political and economic relations between Syria and France. He expressed his hope for enhancing and expanding bilateral relations in all fields.

The signing ceremony was attended by Engineer Sufyan al-Allaw, minister of oil; Dr Muhammad Khalid al-Ali, minister of electricity; Dr Ya'rub Badr, minister of transport; Taysir al-Raddawi, head of the State Planning Commission; Lamya Shakkur, Syrian ambassador to France; and the concerned directors.

The day before yesterday, the State Planning Commission signed a memorandum of understanding with the French Development Agency for cooperation in the fields of developing small and medium-sized projects, promoting the financing of small projects, urban development, developing the infrastructure, developing the transport sector, organizing transportation in the suburbs, helping Syria in solving environmental problems, developing sewage facilities, managing waste, solving the problems of illegal housing and water, financing the projects of renewable energy, promoting the use of clean energy, and maintaining sustainable development in the Mediterranean region in general.

During his meeting yesterday with the members of the Syrian and French sides who signed the joint cooperation agreements, Prime Minister Engineer Naji Itri emphasized the importance of developing ties of cooperation between Syria and France in all administrative and developmental fields. He also stressed the need to upgrade economic relations between the two countries to the level of political relations, whose foundations were laid by President Bashar al-Asad and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Itri also noted the importance of these agreements. He called for working jointly and making efforts to translate and embody these agreements into vital projects that achieve common interests and support the process of construction and comprehensive development in Syria.

The meeting was attended by the deputy prime minister for economic affairs; the ministers of oil and mineral resources, electricity, and transport; the head of the State Planning Commission; and the French ambassador in Damascus.

Originally published by SANA news agency website, Damascus in Arabic 5 Sep 08.

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