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Dubai to invest in Nigerian oil sector

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Dubai said Sunday it has reached a deal with Nigeria to invest in the African nation’s conflict-ravaged oil industry and other sectors of the economy.

The agreement appears to be the first for a company the fast-growing Middle Eastern city-state set up last year to invest in natural resources in the developing world.

Under the deal, Dubai Natural Resources World, a subsidiary of state-owned conglomerate Dubai World, would manage the development and output of Nigeria crude oil and gas reserves. Dubai World called the agreement “far reaching,” but provided few details, including the financial terms.

“Nigeria is a land of considerable opportunity and it is entirely appropriate that Dubai World will partner with the Government of Nigeria to help harness this enormous potential over time,” company Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said in a statement.

The subsidiary would embrace that partnership “through a variety of means including the acceleration of upstream oil and gas assets and the development of gas utilization projects,” Dubai World said.

Dubai Natural Resources World spokesmen said they could not clarify what specific areas of Nigeria’s energy sector were involved, nor were they willing to provide additional details about the agreement or make officials available to comment.

Upstream oil and gas activities generally refer to the development and extraction of energy resources from the ground, rather than refining and distribution.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer, but militant attacks on its infrastructure over the past three years have cut production by nearly a quarter. It often ranks as one of the world’s most corrupt countries.

Militants in the restive, southern oil producing area say the impoverished Niger Delta has not benefited from five decades of oil production, and want the central government to provide a larger share of federal funds.

The dispute has led to the kidnapping of over 200 foreign workers, including two British hostages still held by gunmen from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

Dubai World, a holding company that includes a variety of government-run businesses such as port operator DP World and real estate developer Nakheel, announced the creation of Dubai Natural Resources World in October.

The new company was established to invest “across the entire natural resources value chain,” including in energy, mining and agriculture.

Its creation comes amid a scramble by oil-rich Arab Gulf states and other wealthy nations to secure access to farmland and other natural resources in far poorer developing countries.

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