In the first phase, eight exploration wells would be drilled at a cost of 27.8 million dollars. If oil is found, it would go up to 340 million dollars, General Manager of Lukoil Overseas Egypt Ltd Sergey Nikiforov said, after signing the deal in Cairo with Egyptian Oil Minister Sameh Fahmi.

 

The agreements cover the Northeast Geisum and West Geisum blocks in the Gulf of Suez, which together are estimated to have a maximum of 423.8 million barrels of energy "resources".

 

Bids for Syrian contract

  

Meanwhile, four international companies are bidding for an oil exploration contract in Syrian territorial waters off the eastern Mediterranean, the Syrian Petroleum Co (SPC) said in Damascus on Thursday.

  

The United States company Veritas, Britain's TGS, GSI of Canada, and Norway's InSeis.Terra have submitted offers, it said.

  

The selected company will sign the contract with the SPC, a state-owned company, possibly as part of an international consortium.

  

At the end of May, two US oil firms, Devon Energy and Gulfsands Petroleum Ltd, signed a multi-million-dollar contract with Syria to explore for oil and natural gas.

 

New oil deals on the way

Oklahoma-based Devon, which will act as the operator, has an 80 percent interest in the contract, while Texas-based Gulfsands has a 20 percent interest, according to a statement from Devon.

  

In the first four years, the companies are to undertake prospecting work and drill four exploration wells in an 11,000 sq. km area of northeast Syria near the Iraqi border.

  

Syria currently produces 600,000 barrels per day of oil. Its known reserves are estimated at 2.5 billion barrels.