South Korea clinches foreign energy deals

SEOUL, March 22 (UPI) -- Resource-scarce South Korea has been looking to increase spending on foreign oil assets as it aims to boost its energy independence.

State-run Korea National Oil Corp announced a $1.55 billion deal Monday with Houston's Anadarko Petroleum Corp. for a 23.7 percent stake in its Maverick Basin assets in the Eagle Ford shale formation in south Texas.


Last Friday, KNOC acquired a 95 percent stake in Altius Holdings, Inc., a Kazak oil exploration and production firm for $515 million, said South Korea's Ministry of Knowledge Economy, The Korea Herald newspaper reports. Altius has an estimated 569 million barrels of crude in reserve at its four local oil fields, with average production at 104,000 barrels a day, KNOC says.

The ministry said the deals would increase South Korea's oil reserves by 1.7 million barrels and boost its daily production by 65,000 barrels. That would raise the country's self-reliance rate of oil and gas -- the amount of oil and gas developed by South Korean firms relative to the country's total demands -- by 0.5 percent.

Last year Korea's total self-reliance rate was 10.8 percent, compared to 4.2 percent in 2007, the ministry says. The government hopes to raise the ratio to 20 percent to help South Korea maintain sustainable growth.


The deals follow KNOC's March 13 agreement with the United Arab Emirates to develop a minimum of 1 billion barrels of crude oil in the United Arab Emirates over 30-40 years, beginning as early as 2014. The countries struck a separate agreement on the joint exploration of three untapped oil fields in the United Arab Emirates.

As one of the world's top energy importers, South Korea ranks fifth for oil and second for liquefied natural gas. South Korean imports of crude oil surged 62 percent in the first 20 days of March from a year earlier on increased international prices, Seoul said Tuesday.

As for coal, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said Tuesday it plans to sign an initial agreement with Mongolia for cooperation in clean coal technology and resources development, The Wall Street Journal reports.

By the end of this year, the ministry said, the countries plan to jointly invest about $300 million in a coal-gas power generation project as well as to set up a joint venture for upgrading low-grade coal for heating and power generation.

Mongolia is estimated to have 12.6 billion tons of coal, about 1.5 percent of the world's total.

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