Reuters – South Korea east coast energy prospects hold ‘great potential’, adviser says

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By Joyce Lee
June 7, 2024 6:28 PM GMT+9

SEJONG, South Korea, June 7 (Reuters) – Oil and gas prospects identified off South Korea’s east coast hold “great potential”, a founder of the petroleum exploration research firm advising the government said on Friday.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol announced on Monday the discovery of the prospects at the site off the coastal city of Pohang, which he said could contain as much as 14 billion barrels of oil and gas, and authorised drilling to prove up resources.
“The prospects identified show great potential … for hydrocarbon,” said ACT GEO co-founder and adviser Vitor Abreu, whose firm was contracted by the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) to study data from the area.
Hydrocarbons form the basis of crude oil, natural gas and other petroleum resources.
The targeted find is up to 2 km (1.2 miles) below the ocean’s surface, the energy ministry previously said.
Abreu said the prospects being surveyed had all the key main elements of highly prospective finds and estimated potential reserves ranged from 3.5 billion to 14 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
The analysis estimated the success rate of finding resources from drilling at 20%, South Korean officials and Abreu said, which was high for such a project but still meant an 80% chance of failure, he added.
Australia’s Woodside Energy (WDS.AX), opens new tab, which previously had rights to explore the area, said in 2023 that it had exited several blocks that it no longer considered prospective, including in South Korea.
KNOC principal adviser Kwak Won-jun said new data and analysis had since become available, allowing for a different conclusion on the likelihood of a discovery.
Woodside said on Friday that it was inappropriate to comment further because it was no longer a participant in the blocks.
The government announcement drew cautious optimism in the country among some experts but sceptics questioned the decision to go ahead with drilling, which Yoon said could cost 100 billion won ($73.3 million) for each of the wells being drilled.
Yoon said up to five wells would be drilled starting near the end of the year in the hope of reaching findings by the first half of next year, while other officials said as many as 10 wells may be needed.
The prospects are near areas that have been extensively explored and drilled since the late 1990s, including South Korea’s only viable gas field to date that produced about 45 million barrels equivalent of natural gas and ultra-light crude oil between 2004 and 2021, according to KNOC.
South Korea is the world’s fourth-largest buyer of crude and gas, according to KNOC, and the ninth-largest energy consumer.
($1 = 1,365.2100 won)
Reporting by Jack Kim and Joyce Lee; Editing by Ed Davies, Jacqueline Wong and Jamie Freed

Source: Reuters


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