South Korean, Japanese Refiners Forge Strategic Alliance

First agreement between Asia's major refiners.

Top oil refiners in South Korea and Japan Jan. 22 announced a strategic 10-year alliance to cooperate in all business areas including a future investment in the region. The alliance between SK Corp. and Nippon Oil Corp. (NOC) will cover exploration, refining, transportation, petrochemicals and lubricants, SK officials said. SK, Asia's fourth largest refiner, and Nippon Oil, the third largest, will maximize "efficiency and business growth" in overseas markets through cooperation in investment and marketing, they said.

It was the first broad-range strategic alliance between Asia's major refiners.

Nippon Oil keeps a 26% share in the Japanese energy fuel market, with group sales in the year to March 2006 estimated at 6.1 billion yen (US$50.4 million.)

"Collaboration like this allows both SK Corp and NOC to increase their global competitiveness in today's dynamic oil industry through cost reduction and sharing of resources," said SK president Shin Heon-Cheol.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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