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S.Korea govt backs US shale gas imports, investment

US shale gas

South Korean Energy Minister Joo Hyung-hwan stressed the importance of bilateral cooperation in the gas sector with the first Korean imports of US shale gas due to begin next year. Statoil photo by Ole Jørgen Bratland.

Opportunities in US shale gas expected to increase under Trump

SEOUL, Dec 23 (Reuters) – South Korea stepped up a push on Friday to encourage its oil and gas companies to invest in US shale gas projects, amid expectations that more opportunities will arise under a Trump administration.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy is the world’s second-largest buyer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) after Japan, importing about 30 million tonnes a year through state-run Korea Gas Corp (KOGAS).

In a meeting with the heads of Korean gas companies, Energy Minister Joo Hyung-hwan stressed the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the gas sector, with the first Korean imports of US shale gas due to start next year, according to the ministry statement.

“As the upcoming Trump administration also has great interest in exporting fossil fuel energy sources including shale gas, we, the government, are planning to strongly support our companies’ cooperation in the shale gas sector,” Joo said in the meeting.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump had pledged to roll back some of America’s environmental policies and to revive the ailing US fossil fuel industry.

KOGAS is set to import 2.8 million tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas (LNG) processed by U.S. Cheniere Energy, starting in 2017. The two companies signed a 20-year shale gas supply deal in 2012.

Private gas company, SK E&S, the LNG business unit of SK Group, is also set to import 2.2 million tonnes a year of U.S.-origin LNG from 2019 through 2039.

The meeting followed a call by the energy ministry last month for Korean oil and gas companies to look for more opportunities to invest in U.S. exploration projects.

(Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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