|Seen above is the Manzanillo LNG Terminal in Mexico. Korea Gas Corp. (KOGAS) is operating the terminal with a 25 percent stake. Courtesy of KOGAS|
By Nam Hyun-woo
The Korea Gas Corp. (KOGAS) is expanding its overseas natural gas projects related to exploration, liquefaction and distribution, in a bid to provide a stable energy resource for Korea, and stand out as a leading LNG provider in the global market.
The state-run firm said it is conducting 25 LNG related projects in 13 countries, including the exploration for and production of natural gas, liquefaction, and the construction and operation of terminals and pipelines.
KOGAS is one of the world's largest LNG purchasers, importing 33 million tons of gas from Qatar, Australia, Oman, the U.S., Malaysia and Russia last year.
The company attributed the large purchase capacity to its networks and infrastructure established in major LNG-producing countries.
Among those projects is the Area 4 deep water LNG project in offshore Mozambique, the largest gas field exploration in KOGAS' history.
KOGAS joined the project in 2007 with a 10 percent stake and has since secured massive gas fields, whose reserves account for three times the total LNG sales of KOGAS in 2018. The company said it is expecting a major profit from the Area 4 project, as well as a $5 billion economic knock-on effect for Korean builders and financial firms that participated in the project.
In January, KOGAS President Chae Hee-bong visited Mozambique and the local government promised him its "full support" for the Area 4 project and new exploration endeavors. KOGAS said it will continue expanding its ties with the government there in the LNG-related transportation and bunkering businesses.
KOGAS said it is capitalizing on its experience with LNG terminals to actively participate in overseas terminal projects.
In Mexico, KOGAS is running the Manzanillo LNG Terminal with a 25 percent stake, its first directly owned and operated LNG plant. The company invested 62.3 billion won in the project in 2008, and reclaimed 60 percent of that back in just six years after the terminal began commercial operations.
Recently, KOGAS has the targets of stabilizing Korea's LNG procurement, qualitative growth and public-private cooperation in overseas projects. Through these, KOGAS said it will overcome domestic and international uncertainties and enhance its global competitiveness.
"With our cutting-edge technology and networks, KOGAS will actively participate in overseas LNG projects and make efforts to become a leading LNG provider," Chae said.
Natural gas demand has been soaring in Korea in the wake of the introduction of LNG-powered buses. According to data from the Korean Association for Natural Gas Vehicles, the number of LNG buses was 58 in 2000 but increased to 27,422 in 2018.
Korea's LNG demand is projected to see sharper growth in the future, following the Moon Jae-in administration's energy policy to phase out nuclear power. To fill the vacuum left by this, the government has been rolling out a pack of policies to nurture LNG power plants nationwide.