To date major parts of bilateral relations between Korea and Uzbekistan have been established in complementary economic structures of both countries; Korea provides its technologies and capital in return for the participation in the development of natural resources in Uzbekistan.
Korea does not aim at an interaction limited with only a sphere of energy resources. Korea, favorably distinguished among other countries by its strong wishes to expand and diversify directions of bilateral economic cooperation, now intends to promote various projects in the fields of education, automobiles, textiles, information technology, infrastructure development and construction.
Bilateral trade volume between the two countries has dynamically increased from year to year. It is expected to grow up to $1 billion in 2008 from approximately $850 million last year.
Uzbekistan is rich in natural resources with reserves of 600 million barrels of crude oil and ranks the world’s 10th largest natural gas producer. As the largest investor among Asian countries in Uzbekistan, Korea has invested more than $1 billion in projects of the nation’s development including oil and gas. Additionally, Korean companies are expected to invest more than $2 billion by 2010 in oil and gas projects in Uzbekistan.
Cooperation between Korea and Uzbekistan to jointly explore oil and gas fields practically commenced after the Presidents of both countries adopted the Joint Communique on strategic partnership between the two countries in March 2006, which has paved the way for South Korean companies to develop natural resources in Uzbekistan.
For the past two years, the representatives of the two governments and private sectors have been engaged in constructive discussions on how best both parties can pull together their respective strength and competitiveness in order to bring mutual benefits. Throughout these efforts, Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) and "Uzbekneftegaz"(Uzbek National Oil Company) agreed to construct a gas chemical complex in Uzbekistan with an estimated investment of more than $1.8 billion by 2010 and to start joint development of "Surgil" gas field with reserves of 131 billion cubic meters (830 million barrel oil equivalent) in Ustyurt region of Karakalpakstan.
The signing ceremony of an agreement on the establishment of the joint venture and construction of gas processing plant with a capacity of 445,000 tons a year to produce polyethylene and polypropylene will take place on Feb. 25 2008, the same day as the presidential inauguration of Korea. The joint venture is a 50 50 structure between the Korean Consortium and Uzbekneftegaz. The Korean consortium jointly led by Korea Gas Corporation and Lotte Daesan consists of LGI, SK Gas and STX Energy.
We highly anticipate that this agreement will commit both countries to work together more closely toward the successful implementation of this national-level project. The forthcoming visit of His Excellency Presidnet Islam Karimov is expected to play an important role as a new landmark on the path of strengthening the strategic partnership and cooperation between Korea and Uzbekistan.
Once again, we would like to extend our warmest welcome to His Excellency President Islam Karimov to the Republic of Korea!
By Lee Soo-ho
President and CEO of Korea Gas Corporation
Published by The Korea Times