East Sea gas field faces budget hurdles ahead of initial drilling

Vitor Abreu, owner of the U.S.-based geoscience research company Act-Geo, attends a press conference at Government Complex in Sejong, Friday. Yonhap

The government’s ambitious project to excavate oil and gas in the East Sea is expected to face challenges in securing a budget from the National Assembly, according to sources, Sunday.

While the government aims to allocate a budget of 100 billion won ($72.4 million) next year for initial drilling, the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is putting on the brakes, first demanding the transparent disclosure of relevant information regarding the project.

According to the government, a budget of 100 billion won is needed for drilling one prospective structure. Its goal is to commence initial exploratory deepwater drilling within the first half of the 2025, following sequential exploratory drilling of the four remaining prospective structures.

For next year, following the usual practice, the government plans to cover approximately 50 percent of the total project cost, or 50 billion won, through the Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC). The remaining 50 percent will be provided as government loans to KNOC.

Given the significant investment and technical expertise required for deepwater development, the government plans to start attracting external investments in 2025.

As KNOC is in a state of complete capital erosion, receiving government financial support and attracting external investment is crucial to the project.

However, it remains uncertain whether they can obtain the consent of the National Assembly which can cut budget proposals.

The DPK, which holds the majority in the Assembly, is questioning whether it is appropriate to select the U.S.-based geoscience research company Act-Geo to conduct research. They also want to know how the discussions between the 카지노사이트 presidential office and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy went, which led to the announcement of the plan directly by President Yoon Suk Yeol.

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