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Seoul, Washington agree to boost cooperation on shale gas development

All Headlines 09:43 May 13, 2013

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States have agreed to increase bilateral cooperation in developing shale gas, South Korea's commerce and energy minister said Monday, a move that will bring Seoul closer to using the new and cheap source of energy.

In a meeting held on the sidelines to South Korean President Park Geun-hye's May 5-10 visit to the United States, Yoon Sang-jick, minister of trade, industry and energy, and the United States' Acting Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman agreed to share information on topics related to shale gas, Yoon said during a press briefing.

Shale gas is natural gas deposited in shale formation that is currently produced only in a handful of countries throughout the world, including the United States. The newly developed natural gas is often referred to as a game changer for its relatively cheap price, but the United States continues to strictly regulate its development, let alone its exports.

South Korea, the world's second-largest net importer of natural gas, seeks to expand its purchase of shale gas to 20 percent of its total imports by 2020.

In a joint statement dated May 7, Minister Yoon and Secretary Poneman said they noted the "important role that shale gas can play in promoting energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

Under the agreement, the countries will hold a meeting between government and civilian experts before the end of June, to be followed by three separate workshops on related policy, market and technology before the year's end, according to Yoon.

"I believe this will actually allow us to secure technologies related to the development of shale gas while also enabling our participation in the U.S. market for shale gas," he said.

The minister said the president's trip to the U.S. was also successful in that it led to fresh investment pledges by American firms to South Korea, totaling US$380 million.

The most significant among the new investment pledges was a $100-million plan by Boeing to set up a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, Yoon noted.

"This shows global companies have faith in the strength of our economy despite recent provocations from North Korea and that they view the country as a very attractive market for investment," he said.


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