The Republic of Korea, the world’s 8th largest energy consumer, is an energy-poor country that relies heavily on energy imports from overseas. The country imports almost 93.5% of its energy and natural resources consumption. In 2018, Korea spent USD 1,459 billion on importing energy and resources equivalent to nearly 27.3% of its total amount of imports. With such high dependency on energy imports, Korea is vulnerable to changes in the global energy market, including a rise in prices and a supply-demand imbalance. Furthermore, Korea is highly dependent on specific regions for its imports of energy and resources, including oil and natural gas, which adds to its vulnerability in its energy security. In the case of oil, Korea imports approximately 73.5% of its oil consumption solely from the Middle East.
To secure a stable supply of energy and thereby promote sustainable economic growth and enhance national security, the Korean government has been strengthening international cooperation on energy and responding proactively to changes in the global energy security environment, such as global energy transition.
Korea initiated bilateral/multilateral dialogues with the United States, which has emerged as a major energy exporter since its shale revolution, and Japan, which also demonstrates high dependency on energy imports like Korea, to enhance energy cooperation.
The Korean Foreign Ministry (MOFA) has designated 47 diplomatic missions located in major energy-trading countries in the Middle East, Africa, South and Central America, and Eurasia as“Prioritized Missions for Energy Cooperation.” These missions have made various diplomatic efforts to enhance energy cooperation in their respective locations.
Moreover, MOFA has been actively engaging in discussions on energy issues at various multilateral forums, such as G20, APEC, IEA and IRENA. Korea has also been endeavoring to host a wide range of energy-related international events to strengthen global cooperation on energy.
MOFA established the Global Energy Cooperation Center(GECC) in January 2012 under its Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Scientific Affairs Bureau to help Korean corporations advance into overseas markets. GECC distributes information on overseas energy and natural resources markets to domestic energy companies, organizations and associations. In addition, GECC renders its support to help Korean companies overcome challenges that they may potentially face upon entering overseas markets by providing counseling services both in-person and via telephone.
In addition, based on the heightened international recognition of Korea‘s nuclear power plants, MOFA has been making diplomatic efforts to further expand its nuclear power plant exports in major countries.
MOFA will continue its diplomatic efforts to enhance energy cooperation for Korea’s national energy security.