GS Caltex to supply fuel oil to N.Korea-co. source


South Korea’s second-largest refiner, GS Caltex, was picked as the supplier of fuel oil promised to North Korea in return for shutting down a plutonium-producing reactor by April 14, a company source said on Monday.

“Yes, we will supply fuel oil if North Korea shuts down the reactor,” the source said.

GS Caltex plans to skip fuel oil exports in April to divert 50,000 tonnes to state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) , which has been tasked by Seoul to send the fuel to North Korea and is now building up the stocks, the source said.

But the source added that the supplies appeared uncertain at the moment as talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme ended abruptly last month, derailed by the issue of funds frozen in a Macau bank.

Pyongyang avoided discussing a February deal to shut its main nuclear reactor by mid-April, demanding that $25 million at Macau’s Banco Delta Asia first be transferred to a bank in Beijing.

The White House insisted Pyongyang must live up to the deal it struck for taking steps toward nuclear disarmament in exchange for energy aid and security pledges.       

U.S. Treasury officials and North Korean diplomats have since met last week to work out the transfer of funds frozen in the Macau bank and smooth the way for the resumption of disarmament talks.

Under the February accord, North Korea will get an additional 950,000 tonnes of fuel oil from the six-party participating countries after getting 50,000 tonnes from South Korea once it permanently disables the plutonium factory at Yongbyon and reveals all its nuclear-related materials and programmes.

The 950,000 tonnes will be divided among the countries involved in the six-party talks, but industry sources say South Korea is likely to supply the most, citing geographical reasons.

They said GS Caltex, a 50:50 joint venture between South Korea’s GS Holdings Corp. and U.S major Chevron Corp. , was likely to supply high-sulphur fuel oil to the North. But the company official declined to confirm this.

All five of South Korean refiners had exported less volumes in March in anticipation of winning the bid for the contract. They exported about 40 percent less fuel oil versus a year ago, Reuters estimates showed. 


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