While the Syrian regime is focused on quelling rebels, its neighbor Turkey is taking advantage of the situation by drilling for oil near the border, Hurriyet Daily reported Tuesday.
The Turkish company energy company Arp Petrol obtained a four-year exploration license from the Turkish Energy Ministry to explore a 400-square-meter area in Sirnak and Mardin in the southeast region near Syria.
“There are many active wells across the [Syrian] border. Why shouldn’t we be here? We think that the oil was originated in Syria and immigrated to Turkey. We are working on the oil producer zone’s extension in Turkey. We are chasing the oil and natural gas extension of Syria,” Şehmus Arslan, the chairman of AR Tarım, said.
Syria had reserves of 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil as of January 2013, which makes it the largest proved reserve of crude oil in the eastern Mediterranean, according to the Oil & Gas Journal estimate. Syria also has oil shale resources with estimated reserves that range as high as 50 billion tons, according to a Syrian government source in 2010.
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For its part, Turkey actively seeks new potential energy resources as the country relies heavily on energy imports. As its economy grows, so does its demand.
“We are examining the wells, which have been closed for 30 years, with the new technologies. We aim to make a revolution in the region. We will break the routine that says 'there isn’t oil here,'” Arslan said.
Recent developments in the peace process between Turkey and the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast has allowed exploration to continue.