Constant devotion has real powerDaewoo International is a company that has a right to the old “Daewoo” brand. While it is now a subsidiary of POSCO, the company still uses the logo of the failed Daewoo Group. With the dissolution of Daewoo, Daewoo International went through a workout program under the supervision of creditors. There had been various troubles until it was acquired by POSCO.
On June 24, the company with its turbulent history delivered great news. It began producing gas from a gas field off the western coast of Myanmar. It’s been 13 years since the gas field contract was signed and 28 years since Daewoo advanced into Myanmar. The gas reserve is equivalent to 800 million barrels of petroleum.
The success did not come easily. Daewoo International split from Daewoo Group in 2000, when the contract was signed, and the company was in chaos. Japan and other countries had worked in the western part of Myanmar but had failed to find gas. Some thought that it was a reckless challenge. The workers who participated in the drilling process cannot forget January 2004. “We managed to drill down 3,000 meters (3,280 yards) with no luck. We thought we made an incorrect judgement. We took out the drilling rod and began to drill in diagonally by about 500 meters. The soil from there had a strong odor of petroleum.”
It was the first fruit of the project “Shwe,” meaning gold in Burmese. Additional gas fields, Shwe Phyu, or platinum, and Mya, or emerald, were discovered. But that’s not the end. Commercial gas production requires stable long-term demand and supply pipe construction. It took another seven or eight years to begin producing gas.
The long-term project is not an easy choice for a company under the management of creditors. The workout process often requires the company to sell remaining assets. Daewoo International had to secure production expenses by selling a portion of the gas field. Instead of collecting the debt, the creditors also defended the future growth engine.
Daewoo International’s Vice Chairman Lee Dong-hee said, “The gas fields were made possible by the sweat and tears of the executives and staff members working hard for the company’s revival.”
The company dug out splendid gold after 13 years. Daewoo International has so far invested $2 billion and is expected to make $7 billion to $8 billion in the next 25 to 30 years. It means a profit of 300 to 400 billion won ($262.8 to $350.4 million) annually.
The key to success is nothing unusual. Daewoo International made constant and diligent efforts. Even when the survival of the company was in question, they worked hard and consistently. They continue to search for another gas field in Myanmar. It may sound boring. Nowadays, people don’t appreciate quiet, constant efforts and rave over sensational ideas. Those students who follow the rules and diligently study are ridiculed as “nerds.”
The recently announced summer Jeju Forum programs evolve around “creativity” and “innovation.” The chief executives may be able to get inspiration during their hard-earned vacation. However, in the flood of “creativity,” I hope Daewoo International’s long and strenuous fight against time gets the credit it deserves. Quiet and constant devotion has the real power.
*The author is a deputy business news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By KIM YOUNG-HOON