Korean regime is unpredictable and economic cooperation between the North and South Korean governments won’t trump the political differences associated with both governments,” Stanislav Mitrakhovich, Leading Expert at the National Energy Security Fund, told OGE.
Green Light for Eastern Gas Program
Regardless of the political risks involved with the Russo-Korean gas partnership, Moscow is moving forward with it’s flagship Eastern Gas Program. On October 29, Vladimir Putin and Gazprom’s Alexei Miller announced plans to connect the giant Chayanda and Kovykta oil and gas condensate fields with a dual east-west 3,200-kilometer pipeline system in the Far East by 2017. The western branch of the system will connect to the United Gas Supply System at Tomsk and supply the domestic market with gas. The second branch will transit east to Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, where Putin called for the creation of a new energy export center to the Asia-Pacific region.
“In the immediate future we can create a gas export capacity [in the Far East] that rivals gas exports to Europe, perhaps even surpassing [the amount of gas Russia currently exports to it’s largest market],” Miller stated. Miller also announced that a new LNG terminal at Sakhalin will come online by 2018, increasing Russia’s LNG export capacity to regional and global markets. But is that soon enough for Russia’s gas business?
In closing remarks at the National Energy Security Fund’s forum in Moscow, Oleg Nikiforov of Nezavisimaya Gazeta voiced concern over the slow pace of Russian expansion into East Asian energy markets. “Time is short. By 2016, the United States will have the capacity [to supply the region] with LNG, if they desire to do so,” Nikiforov said.