The deputy CEO of Russia’s Gazprom told reporters that connecting South Korea to Russian gas supplies is economically attractive but politically infeasible on Tuesday.
The long-gestating pipeline project would extend through the DPRK and provide natural gas to energy-hungry South Korea.
But Alexander Medvedev, speaking from a press conference in Moscow yesterday, said the project was too difficult in the current climate.
“The level of communications, the level of cooperation is not that which would make it possible to speak of advancing to the feasibility study stage, let alone implementing a project to supply gas via North Korea.”
Despite the political hurdles, the project is still interesting from an economic standpoint.
“From the economic standpoint, this would probably be the most efficient option for supplying gas to Korea … There is demand for pipeline gas,” Medvedev added.
The pipeline project would also be logistically difficult, both from a construction and maintenance standpoint. Building gas pipeline infrastructure requires specialized knowledge and equipment. The DPRK lacks a domestic oil and gas industry, and is likely sorely lacking in these fields.
A further hurdle would be South Korea’s willingness to trust its Northern neighbor with its energy security.
“Massive amounts of construction materials would have to arrive in North Korea, and (large) numbers of non-DPRK personnel will have to work on North Korean soil. How will the DRPK trust the foreign construction workers?” Lee Seog-ki, senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade told NK News.
“Even if North Koreans decided to install the pipes by themselves, how will the South Korean government trust the DPRK workers?” Lee added.
Despite the numerous roadblocks, the deputy CEO of the world’s largest gas producer remained hopeful that political changes could move the project forward.
“The opportunity remains all the same, but it depends on a resolution of the political issues between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea. There are certain positive signals, but there are negative signals too,” Medvedev said at the press conference.
Previous NK News investigations indicated that Russia is helping North Korea’s energy sector in other ways. Along with running feasibility studies to connect North Korea to Russia’s electricity grid, DPRK oil tankers are seen in Russia’s far-east terminals with increasing frequency.
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 379 words of this article.
Featured Image: Gazprom by Thawt Hawthje on 2013-08-10 20:13:58