By MIN-JEOING LEE
SEOUL -- Korea Gas Corp. is eyeing shale-gas assets in the
US and expects to invest in a liquefied natural gas project
there that will enable it to import at least another 3 million
metric tons a year of LNG, a company executive said.
The state-run gas developer and supplier, known as Kogas,
"will actively seek opportunities to buy good [shale-gas]
assets' and will open its first US-based office in Houston by
next month, Park Young-sung, executive vice president of the
Resources Business Division, told Dow Jones
Newswires in a weekend interview.
Kogas also plans to invest an estimated $1 billion in Royal
Dutch Shell's Prelude LNG project and at least $2 billion in
the Gladstone LNG project, both in Australia, Mr. Park
Each project is expected to provide the
company with around 3.5 million tpy of LNG, he added.
Kogas owns a 15% stake in the Gladstone project and has agreed to take a 10%
stake in Prelude.
The South Korean government is eager to acquire overseas oil
and gas assets and diversify its energy sources.
It said in December that state-run companies, primarily
Korea National Oil Corp. and Kogas, would invest $7.8 billion
in oil and gas assets in 2012 to strengthen energy
Kogas, already one of the world's biggest LNG importers,
agreed in January to buy around 3.5 million tpy of LNG from a
subsidiary of US-based Cheniere Energy Partners for 20 years
starting in 2017.
Its LNG imports from Australia are expected to soar in
coming years, from around 500,000 tpy now to 7 million tpy from
around 2016, likely making Australia one of South Korea's top
Kogas has no specific plans drawn up or decisions made for
divesting a part of its 15% stake in the Gladstone LNG project
in Australia, Mr. Park said.
While the company has been reviewing the possibility of
selling a part of the stake to other investors - to reduce its
relatively high debt-to-equity ratio - no progress has been
made so far.
"There's no set timeframe" for the potential stake sale and
even if Kogas decides to divest a part of its stake, it won't
affect its plans to import around 3.5 million tons of LNG from
the project, Park said.
In February last year, Kogas said during a conference call
that it may sell around 10% in the Gladstone project to Korean
or Japanese companies.
Papua New Guinea remains another potential source of LNG.
Mr. Park confirmed that Kogas has formed a consortium with
Japan's Mitsui & Co. and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. to
bid together as strategic partners in InterOil Corp.'s proposed
multi-billion-dollar Gulf LNG project.
Dow Jones Newswires