Syria’s parliament has signed oil exploration deals with the Russian companies Mercury LLC and Velada LLC, according to Reuters.

It is worth noting that the deals cover exploration and production (E&P) activities in three blocks, including an oilfield in northeast Syria and a natural gas field north of Damascus, according to State news agency SANA.

After over eight years of war and imposed sanctions, Syria’s parliament hopes that these new deals would help boost production. The Oil Minister, Ali Ghanem commented that the signed deals with Russia aligns with government strategy “towards friendly states that stood by Syria, with Russia and Iran at the forefront.”

Furthermore, Syrian state media cited Ghanem as saying the oil ministry would seek to sign offshore contracts for oil investments which has been hindered by economic sanctions.