South Korean president calls for global energy cooperation

Oct. 17, 2013 at 1:04 PM
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DAEGU, South Korea, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- International cooperation is needed to address global energy challenges, said South Korea's president.

Speaking to the World Energy Congress Wednesday in Daegu, South Korea, President Park Geun Hye said the world needs to switch from a traditional energy economic model to what she referred to as a creative energy economy.

The president, who took office in February, said "the most significant challenge" was what the World Energy Council calls the "energy trilemma" – the trade-offs between energy security, social equity and environmental impact mitigation.

More than 6,000 delegates from 113 countries and more than 50 government ministers attended the congress, a triennial meeting sponsored by the WEC, which concluded Thursday.

"We have to explore new initiatives for energy cooperation in Northeast Asia," Park noted, citing the example of the construction of Russian gas pipelines to Western Europe in the 1980s during the height of the Cold War.

Northeastern Asia countries, she said, could cooperate in the development and transport of shale gas from China and North America and also in exploiting oil and gas reserves in eastern Siberia.

"We have to create an environment that allows energy infrastructure connections, including regional power grids, gas pipe networks, and oil pipelines," the South Korean president said.

A WEC report shows that South Korea ranked 103rd in energy security among 129 countries due to its growing dependence on energy imports and slowing overseas energy developments, a drop of 14 notches from its 2012 ranking of 89th place.

The report said that South Korea needs to establish polices to expand cooperation with natural resource-rich countries and steadily invest in the renewable energy sector in order to get through energy supply shortages.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest analysis of South Korea released earlier this year says it was the world's 10th largest energy consumer in 2011 and in that year was the second largest importer of liquefied natural gas, the third largest importer of coal and the fifth largest importer of crude oil.

Although South Korea has some of the largest and most advanced oil refineries in the world, it has no international oil or natural gas pipelines and relies exclusively on tanker shipments of LNG and crude oil.

"Korea will play a leading role in resolving the energy trilemma facing the world," the president said in her speech.

Peter Voser, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell, in his Tuesday speech at the congress, said South Korea "is poised to play an important part as a significant player in the global gas industry," noting that the country's "famous shipyards are building the ships that will transport gas across the oceans to fuel Asia's economic growth."

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