The two Koreas and Russia should take an economic -- not political -- approach to the trans-Korea gas pipeline project to make the idea feasible, said the chief of the Korea Energy Economics Institute at a forum on Friday.
“As for the gas pipeline project, South Korea, North Korea and Russia have different interests and calculations,” said Cho Yong-sung, president of the KEEI, in a keynote speech during a forum, titled “Trans-Korea Gas Pipeline Project: Enhancing Regional Cooperation,” hosted by Daesung Group in Seoul.
“However, to see a pipeline dream come true, they need to take a more economic approach rather than a political approach,” he said.
The trans-Korea gas pipeline project aims to supply natural gas from Russia to South Korea by constructing a pipeline through North Korea.
Talks between South Korea and Russia began around two decades ago under the Kim Dae-Jung administration, but the project has not seen progress, as tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain unresolved.
Cho Yong-sung, president of the Korea Energy Economics Institute, gives a keynote speech at the forum “Trans-Korea Gas Pipeline Project: Enhancing Regional Cooperation” in Seoul on Friday. (Daesung Group)
Aside from geopolitical hurdles, the implementation of the project faces challenges as the three nations involved appear to have different ideas, Cho said.
The North is more interested in direct economic benefits than improved inter-Korean relations. On the other hand, the South expects a thaw in relations through the project as well as economic benefits in its energy sector. For its part, Russia appears to want to expand its influence on the Korean Peninsula alongside economic benefits.
Kim Young-hoon, chairman of Daesung Group, expressed regret that the project has not seen progress for decades due to political obstacles. He hoped the project would be achieved one day to become the touchstone of energy and economic cooperation in Northeast Asia.
Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho, who also attended the forum, said the production and transportation of pipeline gas have been slow due to geographical and political factors. But the gas pipeline project has “a chance to become reality in the future” if the North is ready to denuclearize and peace is achieved in the two Koreas.
During the conference, experts from South Korea, Russia and Japan examined the rapidly changing global gas market and the feasibility of constructing a gas pipeline from Russia through the Korean Peninsula.
The conference also looked at changes in the positions of nations, such as Korea, Russia, China and Japan, due to market fluctuations sparked by the increase in US natural gas exports and the rise of piped natural gas trade between Russia and China.
Kim Young-hoon, chairman of Daesung Group, gives an opening speech at the forum “Trans-Korea Gas Pipeline Project: Enhancing Regional Cooperation” in Seoul on Friday. (Daesung Group)
During the first session, Roman Samsonov, vice president of Samara University, Ryo Fukushima, general manager of the global business planning department of Tokyo Gas, and Andrei Lankov, professor at Kookmin University presented their views on the global natural gas market and prospects for PNG in Russia and Northeast Asia.
During the second session, Ryu Ji-chul, director of the Future Energy Strategy Research Cooperative, Lee Sung-kyu, leader of the northern energy cooperation team at the Korea Energy Economics Institute, and Ahn Se-hyun, professor at the University of Seoul, presented their views on the measures necessary to get the Trans-Korea and Russia gas pipeline in operation.
By Shin Ji-hye (firstname.lastname@example.org)