Damascus is set to lease Tartous seaport on the Mediterranean to Russia for 49 years, Russia’s deputy prime minister said following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s TASS reported this week. The 49-year lease for “economic uses” follows a 2017 deal that saw Moscow bag a 49-year extension for it’s naval base also at Tartous.

Staring down an estimated $400bn reconstruction of his country with little cash on hand (MEES, 22 December 2017), Mr Assad will likely continue to grant generous concessions to his Russian and Iranian allies in return for reconstruction help. Moscow beat out Iran last year for a lucrative hold on Syria’s valuable phosphate industry, and there is little reason to think oil and gas wouldn’t fall into the same trend. Russia’s Soyuzneftegaz is currently carrying out offshore 3D seismic work, and the Russians will find themselves perfectly poised for cushy exploration and development terms. (CONTINUED - 152 WORDS)