SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea’s state-run petroleum company said Tuesday it has discovered crude oil reserves in two blocks it is exploring in northern Iraq.
The Maeil Business Newspaper said the reserves in the Bazian and Sangaw North blocks in the Kurdistan autonomous region are estimated to total two billion barrels.
But the Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) said in a statement it was too early to estimate the size of the reserves. It said a formal announcement of the discovery would be made only after consultation with local authorities.
The Bazian block, in which a KNOC-led South Korean consortium has a 100 percent stake, holds an estimated 1.27 billion barrels, the newspaper said, quoting sources at KNOC and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
Sangaw North, in which KNOC has a 20 percent stake, is believed to have 790 million barrels, it said.
Under a production-sharing contract with Kurdistan, South Korea would have some 410 million barrels, it added.
KNOC won exploration and development rights to the two fields in 2007 and started exploration in October.
Canada’s Heritage Oil has already discovered a large crude reserve just three kilometres from Bazian, Yonhap news agency said.
The Iraqi central government has lodged a protest over KNOC’s development of oilfields in Kurdistan and excluded it from its own oil development projects.
Iraq’s officially confirmed oil reserves are the world’s fourth largest at about 115 billion barrels, according to the CIA World Factbook.