ABU DHABI, (Reuters) – South Korea is likely to secure a major oil field development contract in the United Arab Emirates as the Asian state pushes to meet its long-term energy needs, sources familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
The contract might be signed as soon as Sunday to coincide with the South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak’s visit to the UAE, the world’s third-largest crude oil exporter.
“For a country without natural energy resources, this deal will secure its long-term oil supplies,” one source said on condition of anonymity.
“There is a possibility that a contract could be signed on Sunday,” said another source.
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) was not immediately available for comment due to the weekend holiday.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see the cooperation (between UAE and South Korea) growing on multiple levels,” said independent energy consultant Thaddeus Malesa in Dubai. “A lot of Asian countries are focusing on securing stable energy supplies.”
South Korea is the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer and the UAE is its second-largest supplier after top oil exporter Saudi Arabia.
Ties between the two countries have developed further after the Gulf Arab state in December 2009 awarded a South Korean consortium the contract to build four nuclear power plants worth $20.4 billion.
South Korea’s state-run oil company had signed a memorandum of understanding with ADNOC last August to work on oil exploration and storage.
South Korean companies have been winning construction contracts from Abu Dhabi, and sources had told Reuters in February that ADNOC was increasingly considering working with South Korean partners.
President Lee is expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, on Saturday. He will be visiting Korean troops stationed in the emirate of Al Ain, a presidential spokesperson said.
He will be meeting the UAE president on Sunday, she said.
On Monday, Lee will participate in the ground-breaking ceremony for the UAE’s first nuclear power reactors at Braka, some 300-km (190 miles) west of Abu Dhabi.
The South Korean president will also visit Dubai.