Thursday, August 9, 2012

Iraq’s Kurds sign major energy deals with Korean firms to construct two power plants in their region

Back when President Roh Moohyun reluctantly signed on to send to Iraq what was then the third largest contingent of troops (after the US and UK) in Bush's wildly unpopular war, critics of Roh (and of Korea) dismissed it as a cynical way for Korea to get oil contracts.

And while one could easily argue that Roh sent the Zaytun troops for other reasons — namely to prove he was still pro-US — the oil and construction contracts continue to pay off.

From the Washington Post:
Iraq’s self-ruled Kurdish region has signed a deal with Korean companies to construct two power plants. It’s part of an oil exploration deal.

A statement says the $700-million transaction calls for Posco Engineering and Construction Ltd. to build a 300-megawatt steam power generation plant in Irbil in three to six months, and a 400-kilovolt power transformer in Sulaimaniyah within eight months.

It adds that Korea National Oil Corp., or KNOC, will finance the projects as part of its 2008 deal to explore for oil in eight blocks. They are expected to hold 7.2 billion barrels in reserves.

According to the 2008 agreement, KNOC will allocate some of its profits from oil finds for infrastructure projects.
South Korean companies have a pretty good — but by no means perfect — track record when it comes to these infrastructure deals, and judging from what I've heard from people in government and NGOs in the Middle East and Africa (which is not just a few people), they would rather have Korea come in than China.

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