Optimism remains on gas pipeline between North and South Korea

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2011-9-7

An article entitled, “Joint energy project on the agenda” was featured in the KCNA on August 31, which elaborated on the agreement reached between the DPRK and Russia on August 24 for the construction of a gas pipeline. The joint project is also inclusive of South Korea.

The KCNA said in the article, “The three countries have explored various options in transporting gas and have reached a consensus on building a gas pipeline running through North Korea will be the most cost-effective option.”

It also stressed this project will be beneficial for all three parties. In addition, Russia was commended as the major world power in natural gas and oil reserves and production and stressed Russia is turning its attention to expanding the energy sector.

When the Sakhalin – Komsomolsk – Khabarovsk pipeline that began construction in 2009 is completed, it will be equipped to provide enough gas not only domestically but across the Pacific-Asia region, producing a capacity of 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

The news also covered the specific plans of the Russian government to expand its energy supply; to boost the exports of oil and gas from three to thirty percent and five to twenty-five percent respectively, until the year 2020.

Therefore, the inter-Korean gas pipeline construction between the DPRK and Russia will be a vital project for Russia.

On August 30, the ROK’s Grand National Party (GNP) chairman Hong Jun-pyo declared, “The trilateral negotiation will be expected to take place sometime in November on the inter-Korean gas pipeline project.”

Hong also stated, “The ROK-Russia and the DPRK-Russia bilateral agreements have already been reached. Once the three parties meet to sign the tripartite agreement, the project will soon take off.” He also added, “President Lee Myung-bak has quietly pushed forward with the gas pipeline project since he first took office and it will be his major accomplishment.”

After the bilateral summit was held between the two leaders of Russia and the DPRK on August 24, the two nations have consented to establish a special commission to work cooperatively on the gas transit project running through the territories of North Korea to South Korea.

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