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Posted : 2012-12-23 18:05
Updated : 2012-12-23 18:05

Greenland appeals to Korean investors

Kuupik Kleist
Prime Minister of Greenland

A high-level delegation from Greenland, including Prime Minister, Kuupik Kleist, came to Seoul earlier this month seeking prospective investors for the extraction of oil in gas in waters surrounding the autonomous Danish island.

With the assistance of the Danish Embassy in Seoul, the delegation made visits to companies between Dec. 12 and 16 and made a special presentation targeting prospective investors on Dec. 12 at the Shilla Hotel in the capital.

The delegation was determined to achieve its objective.

According to the embassy, a contractor from Greenland will remain in Seoul for two months in order to follow up initial contacts with Korean companies.

As well as the prime minister, the delegation was composed of the Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Ove Berthelsen, Minister of Education and Research Palle Christiansen and a number of influential Greenlandic business representatives.

President Lee Myung-bak invited them when he visited Greenland, as part of a visit to Denmark. Somewhat ironically, Lee's visit was focused on forming cooperation on green growth opportunities.

But the world's largest island is abundant in oil, as well as deposits of iron, ruby, uranium, tungsten, titanium, copper and aluminum.

No Korean company is currently operating in Greenland. European and North American companies have previously been the major players there, but, as Roderick McIllree from Greenland Minerals and Energy indicated, eyes are moving to Asia where economies are comparatively more stable and companies have finances to invest.

However, there are concerns over the environmental effects of any extraction development. The Arctic Institute, a think tank located in Washington D.C. reports that criticism comes from members of the European Parliament, who, together with environmentally concerned NGOs criticize Greenland's government for seeking to exploit its reserves of oil and natural minerals. But Greenland's natural resources certainly appeal to energy-starved Korea

Korea's energy self-sufficiency is close to zero and is mostly dependent on imported natural resources.

A representative from the Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) said the sea near Greenland is one of the few spots left available for exploration in the world, and his company is likely participate in a bidding process when it opens next year.

For Greenland, extraction efforts mean obtaining rapid economic independence from Denmark.

The island's shrimp-dependent economy will diversify. It will create more job opportunities for the people on the island, around 60,000, and will hopefully attract more outsiders to move there.

Greenland is an autonomous country within Denmark. For centuries, the island was part the ruled under an arrangement between Denmark and Norway. In 1953, it became part of the commonwealth of the Danish Realm and in 1979 gained home rule. A referendum in 2008 favored a power transfer from the Danish government to the local government, which went into effect on July 21, 2009. The Danish government is still in charge of foreign affairs, defense and financial policy.