Korea will import more U.S. LNG for 15 years

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Korea will import more U.S. LNG for 15 years

Korea signed its first long-term energy contract with the Donald Trump administration, committing itself to an additional $9.6 billion worth of purchases of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from 2025 to 2039.

According to the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Tuesday, Korea will be importing an additional 1.58 million tons of LNG annually from BP between 2025 and 2039.

Korea has been increasing energy imports from the United States since the real estate mogul Donald Trump assumed office.

With the contract, Korean state-owned energy company Korea Gas Corp. will be importing 4.38 million tons of LNG from the United States starting in 2025, up from the 2.8 million tons it has been shipping in every year since 2016.

In total, Korea’s total imports of LNG from the United States are likely to amount to 7.9 million tons a year including imports from private companies.

The import contracts can be extended for another three years.

Korea is currently the biggest importer of U.S. natural gas at 5.22 million tons a year. That’s more than Mexico’s 3.84 million tons and Japan’s 2.57 million.

When compared to 2016, Korea’s imports of natural gas by value have surged more than sevenfold from $1.33 billion to $9.41 billion.

The Trade Ministry said in a statement that with the contract signed in New York City, U.S. LNG will account for 22.8 percent of all imported LNG in Korea, which is more than double the 10.8 percent recorded last year.

“Taking the opportunity of our visit, we have decided on additional imports of LNG from the United States,” President Moon Jae-in said on Monday in New York City, where he is attending the annual United Nations General Assembly.

Moon said more imports of LNG from the United States along with Hyundai Motor Group’s decision to create a joint venture company in Boston for autonomous vehicle technologies with Aptiv will strengthen the alliance between the United States and Korea.

“Along with President Trump, the Korea-U.S. alliance is developing into a great alliance,” Moon said. “Economically, the revised negotiation of the Korea-U.S. FTA [free trade agreement] ended successfully, and Korean companies’ investment in the United States has been increasing.”

There have been growing concerns about Korea-U.S. relations especially after the Moon government’s decision to end an intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan.

The Trump administration said it was disappointed with the decision as it could affect U.S. defense strategy in the region.

The gas deal and Hyundai Motor’s joint venture are considered strategic moves by the Blue House to repair the relationship with the White House.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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