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Amid signs of an improved political situation in the Korean peninsula, Russian gas giant Gazprom is reviving its decade-old idea of building a gas pipeline from Russia’s Far East to South Korea through North Korea, Gazprom’s Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev said at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East on Tuesday.
Signs have emerged that the political situation has improved, and Gazprom has started to revisit the idea of the gas pipeline, Medvedev said.
“We are in contact with our South Korean and North Korean colleagues. We are preparing to enter a very important stage... in this case it is preferable to call this the phase of investment substantiation,” Reuters quoted Medvedev as saying.
Gazprom has resumed talks with South Korea over the pipeline idea, Vitaly Markelov, Deputy Chairman of Gazprom’s Management Committee, said in the middle of June.
“To date, the political situation has been somewhat different, and the South Korean side has asked Gazprom to resume the project, and a series of talks has been held on this issue, and these talks are continuing,” Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Markelov as saying at a news conference at the time.
Gazprom had the idea to deliver 10 bcm of natural gas to the resource-poor and import-dependent South Korea by pipeline, but its route must pass through the territory of North Korea. Russia and South Korea signed a “road map” on the project in 2011, but have not advanced beyond that due to the tense regional situation.
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“The ideas behind the pipeline look very difficult to implement, especially given the complex political-military context continuing on the Korean peninsula, and the obvious political risks. However, if there is political will and a mutual commitment, this project could take place, strengthening not only energy, but also military and political security in this rather turbulent region,” Gazprom said in a corporate newsletter back in October 2012.
At the end of March this year, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-what said that the idea of the Russian gas pipeline to South Korea via North Korea could be revived if the security situation on the Korean peninsula improved.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.