S Korea unveils plans to become regional oil storage hub

SEOUL, August 4, 2008 (AFP) – South Korea, the world’s fifth largest crude importer, Monday announced plans for a regional oil storage hub to create new business opportunities and ensure energy security. Existing bunker facilities at the southern ports of Yeosu and Ulsan will be expanded to hold a combined 28 million barrels, said the Vice Minister of Knowledge Economy, Lee Jae-Joon.

“South Korea is situated astride the main North Pacific shipping route, with Yeosu and Ulsan possessing deep water ports and proximity to Chinese and Japanese industrial centres that make them ideal choices for the oil hub endeavour,” he told a parliamentary meeting.

Lee, quoted by Yonhap news agency, said the project could generate more jobs and greater business for these regions and allow South Korea to retain extensive reserves for emergency situations.

In the first phase, a total of 320 million dollars will be invested to increase storage at Yeosu to six million barrels by December 2011.

The government will provide 120 million dollars, with the rest coming from abroad.

“A multinational consortium made up of Korea National Oil Corp., local refiners, international tank terminal operators and crude