Iraq threatens to stop crude oil to S.Korea-Yonhap

SEOUL, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Iraq warned South Korea it could suspend crude oil exports if a South Korean consortium led by a state-run company proceeds with an oil exploration project in a Kurdish-controlled region, Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.

The Kurdistan regional government in early November awarded the South Korean group exploration rights for an oilfield in the Dahuk region of northern Iraq.

The group is led by state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) and SK Energy 096770.KS, South Korea's biggest oil refiner.

Iraq recently informed SK Energy by telephone it could suspend oil exports to South Korea if the company continues the project without the permission of the Iraqi government, Yonhap reported, citing unnamed sources in South Korea’s energy ministry and energy industries.

South Korea’s energy ministry was unable immediately to confirm the report.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said there had been a meeting between government officials and energy industry representatives on Monday but that the results of that meeting were not yet available.

Iraq accounted for 5.2 percent of South Korea’s total crude oil imports for the first 10 months in 2007, according to Yonhap. (Reporting by Kang Shinhye; Additional reporting by Rhee So-eui; Editing by Jon Herskovitz)