South Korea, which has been under U.S. pressure to diversify away from Iranian crude oil, won the right to explore for oil in three undeveloped fields off the United Arab Emirates coast.
Korean National Oil Corp. (KNO) will invest about $2 billion for a 40 percent stake in the fields, which hold estimated reserves of 570 million barrels, the Financial Times said.
KNO's partner, Seoul-based GS Energy, will hold a 6 percent stake in the 30-year joint venture with Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.
The fields are expected to begin production in 2014 and build to a daily rate of 43,000 barrels. The Koreans' stake will be slightly more than 17,000 barrels a day.
The country imports about 239,000 barrels per day of which it has been getting 21,000 barrels per day from Iran, the Financial Times said.
Korea is the world's sixth-largest crude oil importer.