(EnergyAsia, Feb 25) — SK Group, the operator of Korea’s largest oil refiner, is poised to expand its energy business to the US, according to the Korea Herald.

Reinforcing its commitment to branch out its three core areas of energy, chemicals and mobile telecommunications to the US, group chairman Chey Tae-won said that SK Group would fix a firm expansion plan during his current weeklong visit to the country.

He believes the world’s largest economy is crucial for the group’s globalisation plans.

Korea Herald said Mr Chey is in the US to brief investors on 2004 earnings and tour its US branches and affiliates. The company’s oil business in the US involves supplying oil products from its refineries around the globe such as facilities in Peru and Brazil.

Yemen LNG Co., which has a 7% stake in SK Corp., recently forged a contract with Tractebel EGI to supply 2.5 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas per year to the US for 20 years beginning in 2009. Another similar contract was signed with Total Gas and Power Ltd. involving 2 million metric tons per year.

China is the other market crucial to SK Group’s global expansion plans. China accounted for 44% of the company’s sales in the first nine months of 2004 compared with 26% in 2003. To meet surging demand for chemicals and fuel in the world’s fastest growing economy, SK Corp said it plans to strengthen marketing efforts and product distribution. It also plans to double its annual sales in China to $4.5 billion by 2010 from $2.3 billion now.