State-run Korean National Oil Corp. is the fifth-largest crude oil importer in the world, taking in all of the energy requirements for the South Korean economy. An official in the energy ministry told the Platts news service on condition of anonymity an unknown quantity of gas hydrates may lie off the South Korean coast.
"We will seek to determine the size of commercially viable deposits of gas hydrate there," the official said in an interview published Monday.
Gas hydrates form deep underwater where cold temperatures and high pressure cause natural gas to form into ice-like crystals. KNOC already produces around 36 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from the region's Ulleung Basin.
The official added the government may team up with China to explore areas off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula.
Seoul said the drilling plans would be developed over the course of the year.