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Sun 18 Jan 2009 11:31 AM

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Nigeria, Dubai ink $16bn oil infrastructure deal

Dubai World Corporation signs agreement for projects in Niger delta.

Nigeria and Dubai have signed a preliminary agreement worth $16 billion to develop oil and gas infrastructure in Africa's top crude producer, officials said on Friday.

The deal will see Dubai World Corporation (DWC) wholly-owned by Dubai Emirate, investing in projects in the restive Niger delta, Africa's oil and gas heartland, which accounts for nearly all of Nigeria's around two million barrels of crude per day.

Lack of development there is one of the grievances of militants who launched a violent campaign of sabotage against the oil industry in early 2006, shutting a fifth of Nigeria's crude output.

Nigeria's Justice Minister Michael Aondoakaa and Dubai's Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem signed the agreement on behalf of their governments on Thursday in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

"Nigeria is a land of opportunities ... This agreement covers infrastructure projects with the main emphasis in oil and gas", Sulayem said at a signing ceremony according to a Nigerian government state.

The agreement also covers investment in the real sector, agriculture and power, the statement said.

"This (agreement) will further complement government's budgetary efforts in bringing development to the ... Niger Delta", Aondoakaa said.

DWC, which was set up by the government of Dubai in 2006, manages and supervises a diversified conglomerate of businesses, investments and projects spanning over 100 different cities around the world, with over 50,000 employees.

President Umaru Yar'Adua, who took office nearly two years ago, has been keen to bring stability to the Niger Delta. He created a new ministry for the region in September to fast-track the development of the long neglected area.

One of China's top engineering firms, China Harbour Engineering Co., had earlier in July signed a $1 billion deal to build a road around Port Harcourt, capital of Nigeria's top oil state of Rivers. (Reuters)

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