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South Korea to Explore for Potentially Huge Offshore Oil and Gas Reserves

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol endorsed on Monday a plan for drilling off the east coast of one of the world’s largest oil and gas importers, to explore what studies say are potentially vast resources of crude oil and natural gas.   

The area could contain 14 billion barrels of oil and gas, the president told a press conference on Monday, as carried by Reuters.

Yoon was citing a study about the resource potential off South Korea’s east coast. The study has been reviewed by industry groups and experts, the president said.

The area of the drilling will be offshore the southeastern industrial port city of Pohang, and the exploration prospects are in South Korea’s Exclusive Economic Zone, local officials said.

South Korea hopes to begin drilling around the end of this year and to find resources by the middle of next year. Commercial production is targeted for 2035 for the exploratory prospects, the larger part of which are estimated to contain natural gas.

South Korea imports nearly all the fossil fuels it consumes, so domestic production of oil and gas could go a long way to meet some of the demand.

The country is the fourth-largest importer of crude oil and natural gas in the world, Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) says. South Korea is also the world’s ninth-biggest energy consumer. 

South Korea, which aims to reach net zero by 2050, said last year that it would rely more on nuclear power generation in its latest plan, which envisages a lower share of renewable power generation in the electricity mix.  South Korea will aim to have nuclear energy account for nearly one-third of its electricity generation capacity by 2030, while renewables are set to meet 21.6% of power demand, down from a previous forecast of just over 30%.

President Yoon scrapped his predecessor’s policy to phase out nuclear energy over some 45 years and has set a target for nuclear to provide at least 30% of the country’s electricity in 2030.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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