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Natural Gas

South Korean Kogas' LNG imports inch up on year to 12.61 mil mt LNG in Q1

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South Korean Kogas' LNG imports inch up on year to 12.61 mil mt LNG in Q1

South Korea's state-owned Korea Gas Corp imported 12.61 million mt of LNG in the first quarter, up 0.5% from 12.55 million mt a year earlier, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

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All of the volumes were imported under long-term contracts.

Kogas has term contracts for 10.02 million-11.02 million mt/year from Qatar, 4 million mt/year from Malaysia, 4 million mt/year from Oman, 3 million mt/year from Indonesia, 1.5 million mt/year from Russia's Sakhalin, 1.3 million mt/year from Egypt, 0.7 million mt/year from Brunei and 0.5 million mt/year from Australia, according to the company.

The company plans to import an additional 7.1 million mt/year from Australia from 2015 and another 2 million mt/year from 2018, as well as 3.5 million mt/year from the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana from 2017.

Kogas' domestic natural gas sales totaled 11.57 million mt in Q1, down 5.5% from 12.24 million mt in the same period last year.

Of this, sales to retail gas companies for household and business use dropped 9.8% year on year to 6.59 million mt, whereas sales to power generation companies edged up 0.9% year on year to 4.98 million mt.

Kogas, which has a monopoly on domestic natural gas sales, attributed the decrease in sales to weak demand due to higher spring temperatures in the country compared with a year ago.

The state-owned utility also said its net profit jumped 49.8% year on year to Won 422.3 billion ($413.2 million) in the first quarter, compared with Won 281.9 billion a year earlier.

But Q1 operating profit fell 15.1% year on year to Won 721.1 billion, from Won 849.7 billion. Q1 sales revenue was Won 12.52 trillion, up 2.5% from Won 12.22 trillion a year earlier.

"The decrease in operating profit was attributable to lower LNG sales and sluggish overseas projects, while net profit jumped thanks to decreased foreign currency losses and less corporate tax payment," a company official said.

The company's debt rose to Won 36.40 trillion as of end-March, up 4.8% from Won 34.73 trillion as of end-2013. Its debt-to-equity ratio was at 388.7% as of end-March, compared with 388.8% as of the end of last year.

Early this month, Kogas sold 5% of its 20% stake at LNG Canada to Shell as part of efforts to improve its financial status. In March, Kogas finalized its plan to reduce its debt by Won 10.5 trillion by 2017 through asset sales and the reshuffling of its business portfolio. which will lower its debt-to-equity ratio to 249% in 2017.

Kogas is currently involved in 26 overseas projects in 13 nations, including 10 under development and production and five under exploration.

--Charles Lee,
--Edited by Irene Tang,