Under the agreement, Venezuela’s state-run oil firm PDVSA will own a third of the venture with National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company and Malaysia’s Al-Bukhari Group taking 26 per cent each. The local Homs Refinery Company will hold the remaining 15 per cent.

Earlier this year, the ministry signed an agreement with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to build a 100,000 b/d refinery in the Abu Khashab area of Deir al-Zor in the east. The facility will refine heavy Syrian crude oil as well as other types of crude and is due to be completed by 2011 (MEED 3:4:08).

Damascus has also signed a contract with Kuwait’s Noor Petroleum for a 140,000 b/d refinery at Dair al-Zour following a memorandum of understanding agreed in May 2007.

Syria’s oil output has fallen to 400,000-barrels-a day (b/d), from 600,000 b/d in 1996.