Archive for the ‘Natural Gas’ Category

South makes another push for Russia-[DPRK]-RoK gas pipeline

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

According to Yonhap:

South Korea’s new ambassador to Russia said on Wednesday that he is committed to implementing the envisioned South Korea-North Korea-Russia natural gas pipeline.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed at their 2008 summit in Moscow to cooperate on building a tripartite gas pipeline involving North Korea. But the agreement has yet to be realized, as Pyongyang has failed to respond amid chilly inter-Korean relations.

Ambassador Lee Youn-ho, who accompanied President Lee on the Russian trip in his capacity as knowledge economy minister, said that the three-nation gas pipeline project, if realized, will be very meaningful “economically and politically.”

“If the South Korea-Russia gas pipeline can pass through North Korea, it can be linked to the construction of electric power and railway networks (in North Korea),” said Ambassador Lee.

Lee then called for significant improvement of ties between South Korea and Russia, claiming the two are now more ready and fit than ever to forge a relationship that will be mutually beneficial.

You can read past posts about the Russia-Korea gas pipeline here

Read the full article here:
Seoul’s new envoy to Russia vows to speed up gas pipeline project
Yonhap
Byun Duk-kun
2/10/2010

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Russia-ROK gas deal on hold

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Last year we reported on an effort to bring Russian natural gas to South Korea via a pipeline that could either go through North Korea or across the East Sea (aka Sea of Japan).  If the pipeline was to cross the DPRK, they stood to gain by leasing the land for the pipeline.

According to news this week, the plan has been indefinitely shelved.   According to the story:

Plans to import Russian natural gas through a North Korean pipeline have been shelved due to strained inter-Korean relations, the head of South Korea’s state-run energy company said Tuesday.

Korea Gas Corp (KOGAS) (KSE:36460) president Choo Kang-soo said unless North Korea specifically asks for the pipeline to be built on its soil, Seoul will not pursue the piped natural gas (PNG) project but opt to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) directly from Russia by ship.

“An understanding has recently been reached with Russian partners on this issue,” the chief executive said, adding that recent developments like the nuclear standoff raised the importance of creating a “controllable schedule” for getting the gas on time.

He pointed out that the inability to control cross-border issues has made the PNG plan less viable.

Under a blueprint announced in 2008, Seoul said it wanted to import 7.5 million tons of Russian gas starting in 2015 to ensure a steady supply of fuel. Seoul had previously relied heavily on imports from Southeast Asian countries, which have since hiked up prices.

The deal, valued at more than US$100 million, called for a pipeline running from Russia’s far east to South Korea through North Korea.

Choo hinted that because Russia is eying both the Japanese and Chinese markets, it also prefers to transform its natural gas into LNG for overseas sales.

KOGAS, meanwhile, said that the total amount of fuel that will be imported from Russia will equal 20 per cent of South Korea’s projected natural gas needs in 2015. In 2007, the country bought 7.8 million tons of gas for home use alone, with more being spent on power generation and various fuel needs.

Russia has an estimated 38 billion tons of natural gas and announced plans to spend US$28 billion to link the Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Yakutsk and Sakhalin gas fields into a unified gas supply system that can facilitate exports.

Statistically speaking, natural resource exports are bad news for good governance and economic development.  This is because resource-dependent governments never need to develop the policies and institutions necessary to promote sustained entrepreneurship in the private economy from which they can extract tax revenue. Since non-democratic countries are supposed to love natural resource exports because they essentially translate into free hard currency, I am surprised the DPRK could not set politics aside and cash in on this deal.

Also, what does this say about Russia’s relationship with the DPRK?

Read the full story here:
S Korean plan to import Russian natural gas via N Korea on hold
TradingMarkets.com
9/29/2009

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Six party talks: energy aid update

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

In the last round of six party talks, the media focused on North Korea’s deteriorating relationships with Seoul and Tokyo and the DPRK’s reluctance to agree to a credible nuclear verification protocol.  When the talks failed to produce any forward momentum, it looked like energy aid was to be suspended:

After the meeting, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that Japan, Russia, China, the United States and South Korea had allegedly agreed that fuel would not be shipped until progress was made on specific steps to verify Pyongyang’s nuclear activities. (RIA Novosti)

Russia, however, disputes this claim—but likely for for its own economically rational reasons.  Russia has been very strategic in its relations with Pyongang—focusing on securing a stake in the Rajin Songbon port and leaning on Pyongyang to allow construction of a natural gas pipeline to South Korea.  As a result, they have refused to suspend their portion of energy aid:

Russia plans to complete fuel deliveries to North Korea as part of a denuclearization deal, the head of the Russian delegation at six-party talks on Korea’s nuclear problem said on Sunday.

“We expect that we’ll be able to supply our entire quota of 200,000 metric tons in the near future,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and chief North Korea negotiator Alexei Borodavkin said. (RIA Novosti)

and…

[…]Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and chief North Korea negotiator Alexei Borodavkin, who said his country will proceed with a third batch of 50,000 metric tons of fuel oil this month in accordance with previous six-party talks agreements. (UPI)

Despite ending energy assistance, the US maintains it will continue food assistance:

North Korea will receive 21,000 metric tons of U.S. food aid this month as part of an assistance agreement, the State Department said.

“Our humanitarian program will continue,” spokesman Sean McCormacktold reporters in Washington yesterday. The aid will be delivered at the end of December, he said.

The U.S. in May agreed to resume food assistance to North Korea in a deal that will see the communist state receive 500,000 metric tons during the 12 months starting in June. The U.S. has so far provided 143,000 metric tons of aid, McCormack said. (Bloomberg)

Read more here:
Russia to complete fuel supplies to North Korea – envoy
RIA Novosti
14/12/2008

Korea Gas Seeks Stakes in Australia, Oman, PNG Fields, CEO Says
Bloomberg
Shinhye Kang
12/11/2008

Russia to make N. Korea fuel shipment
UPI
12/14/2008

North Korea to Get 21,000 Tons of Food Aid From U.S. This Month
Boomberg
Kevin Cho
12/2/2008

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Last call at Kaesong…

Monday, December 1st, 2008

The end of sunshine?
According to Yonhap (here and here), Friday, November 28, was the last day of the Kaesong day tours (210 tourists made the trip) and the last day the “train to nowhere” made its inter-Korean trip.

As for the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ)…According to (Bloomberg), on December 1 the DPRK cut the number of “windows” available each day for South Korean vehicles to enter and leave the KIZ from 19 to 6 (though the Donga Ilbo claims just 3), and limited the number of South Koreans allowed in the complex to 880—about 20% of the 4,200 previously permitted to enter the complex.

According to the  Donga Ilbo, Pyongyang delivered notice at 11:55pm Sunday saying those allowed to stay in Kaesong are 27 staff of the management committee; four from the (South) Korea Land Corp.; 40 from Hyundai Asan Corp.; five at restaurants and living quarters; two at shops and hospitals; and 800 from South Korean companies. Border crossings are also limited to 250 staff members and 150 vehicles each time.

Jeopardizing more than Kaesong
As previously discussed (here and here), South Korea and Russia are interested in building oil and natural gas pipelines which would cross the DPRK. If these projects went through, the DPRK government would benefit from construction and “rental” fees—in effect taking a cut of all the energy resources that cross their borders.  North Korea, is now telling the Russians that the project is not too palatable at the moment.

Still more red than green it seems.

What now?
So while the DPRK chases away investment from the South, they solicit more from Kuwait and Singapore (where Chris Hill is due to stop by):

North Korean Foreign Trade Minister Ri Ryong Nam, now in Singapore, has urged Singapore companies to invest in the isolated country, the Singapore government said Monday.

The North Korean minister “briefed…on economic developments in North Korea and possible investment opportunities for Singapore companies,” in a meeting with Singapore’s former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, now a senior minister in the Cabinet, a government statement said.

Goh said, “Singapore would be glad to explore ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including in the areas of trade and investment, once international concerns were assuaged and the environment improved.”

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo made a trip to North Korea in May, accompanied by a business delegation, in what was the first official visit to North Korea by a Singapore Cabinet minister.

On that trip, Yeo met North Korea’s No. 2 political leader Kim Yong Nam and Ri.

Yeo said at the end of his visit North Korea might be keen to learn from some aspects of the Singapore development model and that Singapore is ready to offer help and ideas. (Kyodo-Japan Economic Newswire)

Chewing gum manufacturers beware!

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Korea Business Consultants Newsletter

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Korea Business Consultants has published their latest newsletter.  You may download it here.

Topics covered include:
Six Party Talk progress
South Korea/Russia gas deal
More factories opening in the DPRK
UN survey of DPRK population
Summit pledges
Pyongynag hosts autumn trade fair
KEPCO to Abandon NK Reactor Gear
Trust Company Handling DPRK’s Overseas Business
DPRK-Russia Railway Work Begins
ROK Opposition Calls for Renewed Cooperation with DPRK
ROK Delegation Leaves for DPRK
ROK Aid Workers Leave for DPRK
“ROK Makes US$27.6 Billion from DPRK Trade”
“Kaesong Output Tops US$400 Million”
DPRK, Kenya Set Up Diplomatic Ties
Medvedev Hails DPRK Anniversary
Claim to North Korean rock fame
International Film Festival Opens
Ginseng

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North Korea juggles South, Japan, Russia, and US

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

The DPRK’s recent efforts to reconstruct the Yongbyon 5MW nuclear reactor seem to have brought implementation of the “second” Agreed Framework to a halt, though it was already behind schedule.  This week the US sent Chris Hill to Pyongyang to try and rescue the process which is hung up on verification protocol.   The North claims to have sufficiently declared their nuclear capabilities and believe they should be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terror.  The US does not believe this condition has been met and seeks to establish a protocol to verify if the North’s declaration is accurate.

Japan is also set to extend sanctions (due to expire) on the DPRK.  According to Bloomberg:

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party decided to extend sanctions against North Korea for six months after their Oct. 13 expiration date, Jiji Press reported.

LDP lawmakers agreed to extend the sanctions because North Korea took steps to reactivate its nuclear program and made little progress in an investigation into Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, Jiji reported.

Prime Minister Taro Aso’s Cabinet is likely to endorse the extension by Oct. 10., the Japanese wire service said.

The sanctions include a ban on North Korean imports and the entry of North Korean ships into Japanese ports. The extension will be the fourth since sanctions began after North Korea’s October 2006 nuclear test, Jiji said.

Just as the DPRKs hopes of restoring/establishing relations with Japan and the US start to dim, however, they have reached out to South Korea, with whom political relations had recently gone sour due to the South’s policy change from unsupervised aid provision under the “sunshine policy” to a quid-pro-quo relationship under a “policy of mutual benefits and common prosperity“.  Additionally, the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist in Kumgangsan led to a deterioration in cooperation between the two governments and suspension of the inter-Korean project (a cash cow for the North).

How much was the Sunshine Policy worth to the North?  South Korean GNP lawmaker Jin Yeong, who analzed data submitted by the Unification Ministry and the Export-Import Bank of Korea, claims that the Kim and Roh administrations oversaw the transfer of 8.38 trillion South Korean Won in aid and loans since 1998.

Taking office in February 2003 after the second North Korean nuclear crisis emerged in September 2002, Roh doled out 5.68 trillion won to Pyongyang over his five-year term, double that of his predecessor Kim (2.70 trillion won).

Kim and Roh gave to North Korea 2.4 trillion won for building light-water reactors and in food aid; 2.5 trillion won to pin the price of rice aid to that of the global market; 2.8 trillion won for other aid including fertilizer; and 696 billion won in aid from advocacy groups and provincial governments.

In 2003, South Korean aid to the North reached a high of 1.56 trillion won. Then after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il declared that his country had gone nuclear in 2005, the Roh administration sent 1.48 trillion won to the North.

Jin said, “South Korea gave a loan with rice first in 2000. Payments on the loan are deferred for 10 years. Thus, we are to receive the first repayment installment in 2010. But most of the 2.4 trillion won in loans seem irrecoverable.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers Korea audited the fiscal 2007 accounts of Seoul`s inter-Korean cooperation funds, saying, “Considering the characteristics of the North Korean government, grave uncertainty exists over the possibility of redeeming the loans given to the regime. The ultimate outcome depends heavily on the conditions around the Korean Peninsula.”

Since President Lee Myung-bak took office this year, exchanges between the two Koreas have been rare. Still, aid to the light-water reactor and the Gaesong industrial complex projects and civilian donations have continued, amounting to a combined 211.3 billion won. (Donga Ilbo)

It appears the Russians are doing their part to bring the North and South together through a project they can all agree on—building a natural gas pipeline from Russia to South Korea via the DPRK:

South Korea plans to import $90 billion of natural gas from Russia via North Korea, with which it shares one of the world’s most heavily fortified borders, to reduce its reliance on more expensive cargoes arriving by sea.

State-run Korea Gas Corp. signed a preliminary agreement with OAO Gazprom, Russia’s largest energy company, to import 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas over 30 years starting in 2015, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement. The accord was signed in Moscow during President Lee Myung Bak’s three-day visit that began yesterday.

Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller said after talks today between Lee and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the exact delivery route hasn’t been determined and that shipments could begin as early as 2015.

“Russia suggested a pipeline via North Korea, which is expected to be more economical than other possible routes,” the minister said in a news briefing. “Russia will contact the North to discuss this.”

“Transporting gas through North Korea could be risky for South Korea,” said Kim Jin Woo, a senior research analyst at Korea Energy Economics Institute. “But the project will ease tensions on the Korean peninsula if Russia successfully persuades North Korea” to accept the plan.

North Korea could earn $100 million a year from the gas- pipeline project, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said.

“Russia will supply the fuel in the form of LNG or compressed natural gas if negotiations with North Korea do not work out,” according to the ministry’s statement. South Korea and Russia will sign a final agreement in 2010 when a study on the route is completed.

South Korea is turning to Russia, holder of the world’s biggest proven gas reserves, as it faces intensifying competition for energy resources from China and Japan. Asia’s fourth-largest economy depends on gas for 16 percent of its power generation.

Under the agreement, a pipeline to South Korea will be laid via North Korea from gas fields on Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East. The pipeline would initially carry 10 billion cubic meters of gas a year, or about 20 percent of South Korea’s annual consumption. The cost of the gas link’s construction is estimated at $3 billion, the ministry said.

Read the full articles here:
South Korea Seeks $90 Billion of Russian Natural Gas
Bloomberg
Shinhye Kang
9/29/2008

Liberal Gov`ts Gave W8.38 Bln to North Korea`
Donga Ilbo
9/30/2008

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Russia-DPRK economic relations

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

From Dr. Leonid Petrov in the Asia Times:

Russia cooperation with North Korea
Since the early 2000s, overall relations between Russia and the DPRK have been improving. The DPRK’s importation of refined oil from Russia saw its first increase in 2002-2003 (from $20 million to $96 million) and was caused by the beginning of the US-DPRK nuclear confrontation and the subsequent demise of the international Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization project that was to construct a light water reactor nuclear power plant in North Korea.

During 2004-2005, petroleum trade between Russia and North Korea grew from $105 million to $172.3 million. Until the six-party talks produced their first results, in the list of Russia’s exports to the DPRK, oil products dominated at 63%. Rampant corruption in both countries also let a trickle of Russian oil to be smuggled to North Korea unaccounted for.

In 2006, Russia was the DPRK’s third-largest trading partner after China and South Korea and absorbed 9% of the total $3.18 billion spent by the North on imports (approximately $286 million). The Kremlin’s approval of international sanctions against the former communist ally was accompanied by the curtailment of trade with the North. At the time of North Korea’s nuclear test in October 2006, Russia’s trade statistics showed that exports of petroleum had dropped 91.1% compared to the same period of the previous year.

The pragmatic mood in bilateral relations prevails, and these days Russia delivers oil and food to North Korea only in accordance with its obligations associated with progress at the six-party talks. This year, Russia has already delivered 100,000 tonnes of fuel oil to the DPRK in two batches and, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin, a top Russian envoy to the six-party talks, will deliver another 100,000 tonnes by October 2008. In June, the Russian government announced it would provide 2,860 tonnes of flour to the DPRK. According to an official KCNA news agency report, this food aid arrived at the border city of Sinuiju in the DPRK’s northern Pyongan province in early July.

Recently, for the first time in the post-Soviet era, North Korea saw a major Russian investment. In the city of Pyeongseong, the Russian auto plant KamAZ opened its first assembly line, specializing in the production of medium-size trucks named “Taebaeksan-96”. Although less than 50 trucks were assembled in 2007, this cooperation became an important milestone in the development of bilateral relations. While the project doesn’t violate United Nations sanctions on North Korea, it shows Moscow’s drive to expand its influence in the country. Ironically, the more trucks assembled the heavier North Korea’s dependence on imported fuel, engine oils and other petrochemical products.

The importance of the DPRK’s Rajin-Seonbong special economic zone to Russia’s national interests continues to grow. The state-run monopoly OAO Russian Railways is currently upgrading its railway connections with North Korea in Khasan-Tumangang, investing at least 1.75 billion roubles (US$72 million) into this project, and plans to participate in an ambitious plan to rebuild a trans-Korean railway. By connecting Rajin (and the rest of northern Korea) to its Trans-Siberian railroad, Russia hopes to benefit form the transit of South Korean and Japanese cargo which could be sent via its territory to Central Asian and European markets. Pyongyang seems to endorse these plans and other Russian initiatives, but does not commit any financial resources.

Eighty percent of overall bilateral economic trade between Russia and North Korea consists of cooperation, barter and investment-in-kind between the regional areas. The most active Russian regions trading with the DPRK are Eastern Siberia and the Far East. Maritime province (Primorsky Krai) itself exports to North Korea more than $4 million worth of refined oil per year. There are no oil fields in Maritime province and oil has to be borrowed through a chain of federal bureaucratic structures from the oil-rich areas of Eastern Siberia. Instead of money, the local governments agree to receive the labor of North Korean workers.

North Korean laborers in Siberia and the Far East were common under the Soviet system and they are still visibly present. In 2004, the Russian Federal Immigration Service issued 14,000 visas for foreign laborers, of whom North Koreans numbered 3,320 in 2005 and 5,000 in 2006. Since the DPRK has no other way to pay in goods or services, its government started paying for oil imported from Russia by dispatching thousands of laborers at zero cost. Following strong demand from local companies, just in 2006 regional authorities of Primorsky Krai agreed to issue an extra 5,000 working visas to North Koreans. This openness is contrary to local government policy that normally restricts the entry of labor from China.

DPRK citizens are sent to Russia to work as woodcutters and builders but some have also managed to find work in the agricultural and marine industry. Through the presence of these laborers, Russia has enjoyed a partial repayment of the DPRK’s post-Soviet debt through North Korean workers being contracted to work in mines and lumber mills in Russia’s Far East.

The wages they are able to make in Russia are far greater than what they would make at home. However, the foreign worker quota is set not by provincial governments but by Moscow, which often tries to put a stop to these programs due to the complexity of the matter. Part of this opposition stems from the fact that the North Korean workers in Russia still fall under DPRK laws and, therefore, are subject to intrusive supervision.

Among the most difficult but negotiable issues in the way of Russia-North Korea cooperation remains the problem of external debt. During the Soviet era, the DPRK incurred a debt of approximately $8 billion, which Pyongyang still owes to Moscow but cannot repay. This debt remains a stumbling block in most negotiations on new aid and development programs. However, this debt can potentially make trilateral Russian-Korean relations closer and stronger.

In January 1991, soon after the opening of diplomatic relations with South Korea, Moscow received $3 billion from Seoul in the form of a three-year loan. The collapse of the Soviet Union left this loan largely unpaid. The new Russian government in the 1990s provided South Korea with armaments worth $150 million to be counted as payment in kind for the remaining debt. In 2003, after bilateral negotiations on this issue were completed, part of this Russian debt was canceled and the remainder was rescheduled to be paid over the next 23 years.

Taking into account its own debts to the South, Russia could easily write off a significant portion of North Korean debt. To resolve this question, a certain agreement between all three parties is needed. To engage in a mutual and reciprocal round of debt cancelation, Russia might choose to see the North and the South as one country. Such an agreement would have unblocked the road for broader cooperation between Russia and the two Koreas, and simplified Russia’s energy cooperation with China and Japan.

The full article is worth reading here:
Russia is key to North Korea’s plight
Asia Times
Leonid Petrov
7/24/2008

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DPRK sends ambassador to Turkmenistan

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

This is interesting on so many levels…

Turkmenistan.ru
6/24/2008

Turkmen Mejlis speaker Akja Nurberdiyeva received letters of credence of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Korean People’s Democratic Republic to Turkmenistan Kim Yon Chje on June 23.

During the talks, the sides agreed on the need to boost interstate relations, in particular the cultural dialogue. The sides also supported the idea of establishing inter-parliamentary relations, the Turkmen State News Agency (TDH) reports.

On the same day, the North Korean ambassador held talks at the ministry of foreign affairs of Turkmenistan. The diplomat also visited the village of Kipchak to pay homage to the first president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov.

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DPRK Energy Experts Working Group Meeting

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

From the Nautilus Institute (presentations at bottom):

Background
Energy insecurity is a critical dimension of the North Korean (DPRK) nuclear challenge, both in its making, and in its reversal. One of the Six-Party Talks working groups, the Economy and Energy Working Group, is largely devoted to this topic, and energy assistance will play an important role in the process of denuclearization of the DPRK. Nautilus Institute maintains a unique database and set of quantitative and qualitative analytic tools to evaluate and track the DPRK’s energy economy, and has maintained working relations with North Korean scientists and technical personnel from the energy sector for more than a decade. With this capacity, Nautilus has provided a stream of policy analyses and briefings at their request to US, ROK and other officials on the DPRK’s energy needs, its likely negotiating postures and demands, and possible negotiable options. The need for such expertise in support of the Six-Party Talks is increasing.

This project ensures that the underlying data and technical analysis available at Nautilus is as up-to-date as possible, and that analysis and policy advice are available when needed by US and other officials.
The Second DPRK Energy Experts’ Working Group (2008) served to provide information and views from key experts in the field to inform the Nautilus DPRK energy sector analysis update. Experts in attendance at the meeting provided both pertinent, recent data and special insights that are being used to help to make the database as reflective as possible of actual conditions in the DPRK. This in turn provides crucial input to the analysis needed to help to inform the parties to the 6-Party talks regarding possible approaches to DPRK energy sector redevelopment.

In addition, the DPRK Energy Experts Study Group Meeting served, as did the first Meeting, as an opportunity for experts on the DPRK to exchange views on the appropriate “next steps” in DPRK energy sector redevelopment. Key outcomes of this discussion are being reflected in the updated DPRK Energy Sector Analysis. In the process of discussions, the experts in attendance helped to further develop and elaborate-as well as providing input on the prospects for-the activities and means by which the various parties concerned with Korean peninsula affairs might engage and work with the DPRK to help resolve both the DPRK’s energy problems, and, in so doing, begin to address and ameliorate the regional and global insecurities of which the DPRK’s energy problems are a key part. In particular, through the focus of the second day of the meeting on Building Energy Efficiency, progress was made on consideration of possible benefits from and approaches to improving the effectiveness of energy use in the crucial DPRK buildings sector.

The Second DPRK Energy Experts Study Group Meeting convened by Nautilus and its partners will was attended by experts in a variety of areas related to energy supply and demand in the DPRK-including electricity, coal and other minerals, the DPRK economy as a whole, trade into and from the DPRK, and the DPRK’s rural household and agricultural sectors, and energy use in buildings in general in the DPRK and elsewhere (the primary topic of the second day of the Meeting)-to review and discuss the results of existing and newly-commissioned research, and to provide insights from their own experience and their own research. A total of approximately 15 experts on the DPRK and on matters related to DPRK issues attended the Meeting, not including an additional 15 experts, representatives from the organizations partnering to fund and organize the meeting (Nautilus, Tsinghua University, USDOE), including observers from bilateral aid agencies associated with a number of countries, from international organizations, from the business sector, and others, who also lent their expertise to the workshop. On the second day of the workshop, supported by funding from a private foundation, a five-member delegation from the DPRK also attended the meeting, providing presentations and insights of their own on energy use in DPRK buildings, and on related energy sector problems and plans in the DPRK.

Presentations:
Presentation: North Korea’s Mineral Resources and Inter-Korean Cooperation
By Woo-jin Chung

Presentation: Nautilus Institute’s Analysis of the DPRK Energy Sector and DPRK Energy Paths: Update
By David von Hippel

Presentation: Analysis on DPRK Power Sector Data & Interconnection Option
By Yoon Jae-young

Presentation: DPRK Energy and Energy-Related Trade with China: Trends Since 2005
By Nate Aden

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Stratgeic alliances in North East Asia: Railways, ports, and energy

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Writing in today’s Asia Times, Dr. Leonid Petrov analyses the complexity of Russia, Rok, DPRK, and Chinese relations:

Russia and North Korea:

Territorial claims, in one form or another, involve almost all countries adjacent in this region with the exception of Russia and Korea. The Joint Russian Federation-DPRK Commission for the Demarcation of State Borders has recently completed its work by documenting and marking the 17-kilometer frontier. This strip of uninhabited and swampy land in the mouth of the Tumannaya (Tuman-gang) River plays an exceptionally important geopolitical role. It not only provides the two countries with land access to each other, but also prevents Chinese access to the East Sea (Sea of Japan).

China and North Korea: 

Here, some 50km north of the small port that forms the core of North’s Rajin-Seonbong Special Economic Zone, the interests of Russia and China are now at stake. Russia is rapidly repairing the railroad track, and China (in a similarly speedy manner) is constructing a new automobile highway, both leading from their respective borders to the port of Rajin. Russia, investing at least 1.75 billion rubles (US$72 million) into this project, seeks to strongly connect Rajin (and the rest of northern Korea) to its Trans-Siberian Railroad. China, in turn, hopes to divert the growing cargo traffic to its own territory, offering the efficient network of railroads for delivery of South Korean and Japanese goods to Central Asian and European markets. What position will the government of North Korea take in this clash of ambitions?

Russia and South Korea (energy and trade):

In 2007, the volume of the export of “black gold” from Russia to South Korea reached 38.13 million barrels (2.7 times more than in the previous year). The relative proximity of the Russian oil and gas fields is an attractive factor for Korean companies who actively search for alternatives to Middle East oil suppliers. This year South Korea will for the first time start importing natural gas from Russia. The expected volume of delivery during 2008 is 1.5 million tons (or 5.1% of South Korea’s annual demand).

and

Trade relations between Russia and Korea are steadily growing. According to customs statistics, last year Russia recorded the sharpest increase of South Korean imports (56.2% more than in 2006). Due to the inflow of “petro-dollars” the new class of nouveaux riches in Russia began actively buying Korean automobiles, cell phones, television sets and LCD monitors. South Korea exported to Russia goods worth US$8.1 billion (including $3.296 billion of automobiles, $859 million of mobile phone equipment, motor vehicles and spare parts worth $659 million). As for trade with North Korea, in 2006 Russia occupied third place after China and South Korea and absorbed 9% of the total $3.18 billion spent by the North on imports.

More on Russia/South Korea energy talk here. 

The whole article deserves reading here:
Russia lays new tracks in Korean ties
Asia Times
Leonid Petrov
3/5/2008

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