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S. Korea Ranks One of World's Top Five Energy Importers
South Korea relying heavily on imports of its crude oil

Due to its lack of demestic energy reserves South Korea ranks among the world’s top five importers of liquefied natural gas, coal, and petroleum and other liquids and the East Asian nation has some of the most advanced oil refineries in the world, and its companies have investments in overseas oil and natural gas assets, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced in its updated country analysis brief on Jan. 19, 2017.

The EIA report said that South Korea relies on imports to meet about 98% of its fossil fuel consumption as a result of insufficient domestic resources. The country is one of the world's leading energy importers.

South Korea was the world's ninth-largest energy consumer in 2015, according to estimates from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016. Because South Korea lacks domestic energy reserves, it is one of the top energy importers in the world and relies on imports for about 98% of its fossil fuel consumption.

South Korea ranks among the world's top five importers of liquefied natural gas, coal, crude oil, and refined products. South Korea has no international oil or natural gas pipelines and relies exclusively on tanker shipments of LNG and crude oil.

Despite its lack of domestic energy resources, South Korea is home to some of the largest and most advanced oil refineries in the world. In an effort to improve the nation's energy security, oil and natural gas companies are aggressively seeking overseas exploration and production opportunities.

South Korea's highly developed economy drives its energy consumption, and economic growth is fueled by exports, most notably exports of electronics and semiconductors. The country also comprises one of the world's top shipbuilding industries. Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew to 3.3% in 2014, up from 2.9% in 2013. However, GDP growth dropped to 2.6% in 2015 as demand in the country's export markets weakened.

South Korea's economic growth following the 2008 global financial crisis was relatively resilient compared to weaker growth of the economies in other developed countries.

However, South Korea's economy is heavily dependent on export markets, particularly within Asia, which have experienced a slowdown in the past few years. Also, the country's aging population is expected to dampen domestic demand for energy and the overall economic landscape.

Although petroleum and other liquids, including biofuels, accounted for the largest portion (41%) of South Korea's primary energy consumption in 2015, its share has been declining since the mid-1990s, when it reached a peak of 66%. This trend is attributed to the steady increase in natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy consumption, which has reduced oil use in the power sector and the industrial sector. Higher vehicle efficiencies have also reduced oil consumption (Figure 2).

Following Japan's Fukushima disaster and South Korea's problems with false safety certifications of nuclear parts in late 2012, the government scaled back its long-term reliance on nuclear power in the electricity portfolio from its first plan in 2008 to the most recent plan unveiled in early 2014.

South Korea is attempting to balance its fuel portfolio to meet higher energy consumption, to moderate its nuclear power generation, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to offset some fossil fuel imports.

As part of this effort, the government is also promoting greater demand-side management, energy efficiency measures, and use of renewable energy.






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