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South Korea Joining the Big Boys

South Korea will soon join the world's oil-and gas...

South Korea will soon join the world's oil-and gas-producing countries as its first gas field in the East Sea nears the start trial production, the head of the state-run oil company announced.

"(We) plan to begin test-production in the Donghae-1 gas field this weekend and commercial production in July," Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC) President Yi Ok-su told reporters.

Since the East Sea field was discovered in July 1998, the KNOC has poured 300m US dollars into its development. It expects the gas field to make 78m dollars in net profits and help the country save 1.2bn dollars in oil imports.

The East Sea field, 58 km southeast of Ulsan on the east coast, contains an estimated 5m cubic feet of natural gas.

The KNOC said it will produce 1,000 tons of gas daily, or 400,000 tons annually, over the next 15 years. The amount accounts for 5 per cent of the nation's gas consumption.