U.S. downplays shale gas rule impact

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U.S. downplays shale gas rule impact

A growing set of U.S. federal regulations on the booming shale gas industry is unlikely to have a significant impact on Korea’s investment in American shale gas assets, a U.S. official said.

Korea, the world’s No. 2 net importer of liquefied natural gas, has pushed to diversify its sources of energy supply and expand purchases of shale gas to 20 percent of its gas imports by 2020.

Technological advances for extracting shale gas, natural gas formed from being trapped in shale rock far below the surface, have fueled the boom of the shale gas industry in the U.S. over the past years, but the rapid expansion of shale drilling has sparked public concern about health and safety.

As a result, for instance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is developing rules for shale gas developers to dispose of their wastewater or other preventive measures, prompting some analysts here to raise concerns about Korea’s investment in U.S. shale gas mining.

Korea’s state-run Korea National Oil Corporation has invested more than $2 billion in shale gas assets in the U.S., while Korea Gas Corporation has announced its intention to import another three million metric tons a year.

“I think that there are some mismatched costs involved with the new regulations,” Lonny Bagley, deputy state director of the Bureau of Land Management at the U.S. Department of the Interior, told Yonhap News Agency in an interview.

“But, we have gone through and analyzed those regulations, what’s going to be the best to protect underground water, public health and safety,” Bagley said on the sidelines of a Seoul forum hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

“So, even though the cost might be increased slightly, we don’t believe it’s the cost that can prohibit investment by the Korean government into shale gas development in the United States,” Bagley said.

Park Ro-byug, Korean ambassador of energy and resources, told the forum that his country “needs more shale gas” as it seeks to diversify sources of energy supply and “remove inefficiency in electricity and natural gas markets.”

Describing shale gas as a “game changer” in the energy sector, Park expected shale gas to help Korea achieve long-term stability for its energy security. Yonhap
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