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Gazprom, South Korea Revive Talks To Build Gas Pipeline Via North Korea

Russian gas giant Gazprom has resumed talks with South Korea over a decade-old idea to build a gas pipeline from Russia’s Far East to South Korea through North Korea, Vitaly Markelov, Deputy Chairman of Gazprom’s Management Committee, said on Friday.

“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 today.

Russian giant 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” in 2011, but have not advanced beyond that, due to the tense regional situation.

“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.

Related: The Bullish And Bearish Case For Oil

At the end of March, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha 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.

“Should the security situation on the Korean Peninsula improve, we will be able to review the PNG [pipeline natural gas] business involving the two Koreas and Russia,” Kang said at the time, as carried by the Yonhap news agency.

Between March this year and this week, the political situation around the Korean peninsula indeed changed after a meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April, and this week’s U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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