China, the world's second largest oil consumer, has agreed to finance the joint project with $3 million, which is expected to process 100,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
 
Co-operation

The two countries also signed a framework agreement to bolster oil and gas co-operation, including oil exploration, SANA said.

The agreements were signed by representatives of the China National Petroleum Corp and Syrian oil ministry officials on the sidelines of a visit to Damascus by a Chinese Communist party delegation.

The Chinese state media said that the deal for the refinery is the first of such joint venture refineries planned by China in Syria, including a one-billion-dollar oil refinery.

Over the past years Syria has signed several oil and gas deals with foreign companies and launched tenders for exploration in both sectors in a bid to boost its dwindling energy output.

Gas production has risen from two million cubic metres a day in 1995 to 14.2 million in 2007, while oil output has fallen to around 400,000 barrels per day last year from about 600,000 bpd in 1996.