중앙데일리

Pipeline to stay pipe dream

Route through North called no longer viable

Sept 30,2009
Ambitions to build a pipeline to transport natural gas from Siberia through North Korea to the South are unlikely to be realized so long as the inter-Korean relationship remains strained, said Choo Kang-soo, president of the Korea Gas Corp., yesterday.

The South Korean government will look into a pipeline only when the North Korean government specifically requests one to be built, Choo said. If it does not, South Korea will continue to import natural gas in the form of liquefied natural gas shipped directly from Vladivostok.

The South Korean state-run gas company has been reviewing with the Russian gas supplier Gazprom the possibility of a natural gas pipeline through North Korea in order to diversify supply routes. During his visit to Russia in September last year, Korean President Lee Myung-bak agreed with the Russian government to import a maximum of 7.5 million tons of natural gas annually from Russia for the next 30 years, with the imports to pass through pipelines starting in 2015.

Imports will supply up to 20 percent of Korea’s natural gas by 2015.

But Choo said that unofficially, North Korea has made too many demands, forcing the Korea Gas Corp. and its Russian partner to change their minds.

Another concern was securing a steady supply through the North. Economic relations between the two Koreas deteriorated this year due to missile tests and the temporary shutdown of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Choo hinted that such actions by North Korea had made the pipeline less viable.

Choo added that the Korea Gas Corp. will build a gas liquidating plant in Vladivostok. He also said the gas company is planning to increase its capital from the current 4 trillion won ($3.4 billion) to 8 trillion won by 2012 through measures to include 2 trillion won in newly issued shares.


By Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]



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