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Nigeria scraps SKorean oil plans

SEOUL, January 29 – Nigeria has unilaterally scrapped oil exploration rights awarded to South Korea in 2005, citing an alleged failure to make payments, the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) said Thursday.

The Ministry of Petroleum told a South Korean consortium led by KNOC that it was cancelling rights to develop two offshore oil blocks, the state-run firm said in a statement.

It said the two blocks were estimated to hold some two billion barrels of crude in total.

"The South Korean consortium is studying various measures against the Nigerian government\’s unilateral cancellation of the exploration rights," KNOC said.

"Through close consultations with the (Seoul) government, we are working on various countermeasures which may include a lawsuit."

South Korea has a 60 percent stake, with a British company owning 30 percent and a Nigerian firm the remaining 10 percent, in the product-sharing deal.

Nigeria accused the South Korean consortium of failing to pay 231 million of the 323 million dollars promised in return for exploration rights.

KNOC said the 231 million dollars had already been written off by the former Nigerian government in return for the consortium\’s construction of infrastructure including a power plant and gas pipelines for Nigeria.

The government of President Umaru Yar\’Adua took office through a much-criticised April 2007 election win.

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