SEOUL -- South Korea and Middle East countries have agreed to seek joint storage of crude oil and refined oil products, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said Wednesday.

It said the plan was reached at the second Ministerial Energy Roundtable meeting held in Saudi Arabia between oil exporters, importing nations and the International Energy Agency. Vice Energy Minister Lee Jae-hoon is attending the five-day meeting that runs through Friday.


In the pact, Kuwait said it will push for joint storage of the oil it produces in the near future, while Qatar said it wanted to store some of the oil it produced in South Korea.


The United Arab Emirates also said it will conduct feasibility studies on the issue so a deal can be reached on joint storage.


The joint storage arrangement calls for crude and refined oil products, including gasoline, to be stored in South Korean bunkers and sold to third countries, allowing the country to become a sales outlet for oil. Operators of the local bunkers could receive payments for storing oil, while South Korea could buy and use the oil in case of a sudden surge in prices or in emergencies.


At present, South Korea has the capacity to store 256 million barrels of crude and other oil products, with the government able to store 121 million barrels.


In late March, the country had 155 million barrels in storage, 27.6 million barrels of which were oil held in a joint storage arrangement.


Norway, Algeria, France and China store their oil in South Korean bunkers. Kuwait had a joint storage pact in the past, but stopped doing so after the original contract ended.


In addition to the joint storage pact representatives from Middle East countries said they planned to continue supplying steady oil shipments to South Korea in the midst of fluctuating prices.


South Korea, with its heavy industrial base, is the fifth-largest oil importer and seventh-largest consuming nation.



News Code 103690

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