Production at the Khurbet East field in Block 26, which came on stream earlier in 2008, is running at more than 11,500 barrels a day (b/d).

The oil is being trucked 33 kilometres on a dedicated road to a production facility owned by state oil company Syria Petroleum Company, the group’s partner in Block 26.

Gulfsands says work to expand the early production facility is an interim step ahead of the full development of the field and a further exploration well should be drilled before the end of 2008.

The company also operates in Iraq and the US, and it says that the pace and substance of negotiations with Baghdad over the Maysan Gas Project has been stepped up considerably in recent months.

No agreement has yet been signed but the group says it is in early discussions with potential funding partners for the project.

“We are in a strong position to exploit the still greater opportunities open to us in Syria and Iraq,” says Andrew West, chairman of Gulfsands.

Overall, the company made a pre-tax loss of $9.7m on revenues of $19.7m in the first half of this year. This compared to a profit of $2.3m and revenues of $19.3m for the same period last year.

The company made a loss of $0.5m in Syria and a loss of $0.3m in Iraq in the first six months of the year.