South Korea to Begin Drilling for Potential 14 Billion Barrels of Oil, Gas off its East Coast

South Korea to Begin Drilling for Potential 14 Billion Barrels of Oil, Gas off its East Coast
Offshore drilling rig

South Korea’s President has approved the exploration and drilling of some oil and gas reserves off the country’s east coast.

President Yoon Suk-yeol revealed that there is a “very high” possibility the area contains as much as 14 billion barrels of oil and gas, based on a study reviewed by experts and industry groups.

“Today, I approved the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy to go ahead with the drilling for exploration deep in the east sea,” Yoon said.

The project, with an estimated cost of over 500 billion won ($363 million), is set to begin by 2024, with hopes of finding energy reserves by the first half of next year. The exploration site is located off the southeastern industrial port city of Pohang, within South Korea’s Exclusive Economic Zone, according to Reuters.

South Korea’s previous exploration efforts for oil and gas since 1996 have resulted in the discovery of gas reserves equivalent to about 4.5 million barrels, with commercial development completed in 2021.

The new prospects, according to President Yoon, promise enough gas to fuel the country for 29 years and oil equivalent to four years of consumption.

This announcement led to a rise in energy stocks in Seoul, seeing shares of oil refiner SK Innovation closed with a 6% gain, Korea Gas Corporation surged 30% to a 17-month high, Daesung Energy hit the daily limit of 30%, and SK Gas advanced by 7%.

Readul Islam of research company Rystad Energy said that the project could have huge benefits for South Korea, the world’s third-largest importer of LNG. He noted that any volumes of gas found could serve to reduce the pressure on LNG producers to meet the increasing demand for the super-chilled fuel globally in coming decades.

However, Islam also cautioned that only drilling will reveal the actual amount of oil and gas present, and nothing is certain at this stage.

The project’s estimated success rate is about 20%, based on data received so far, according to Yonhap news agency.

Energy Minister Ahn Duk-geun provided further details, stating that three-quarters of the prospects are estimated to contain gas, with the rest being oil, and commercial production is targeted for 2035.

Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) will lead the drilling efforts, aiming to determine the size of the prospects. Up to 10 wells may be needed, each costing approximately 100 billion won, to fully assess the potential of the site, said Reuters.

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Doaa Ashraf 458 Posts

Doaa is a staff writer with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication, majoring Journalism from Ahram Canadian University. She has 2-3 years of experience in copywriting, and content creation.

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