Lee Myung-bak’s “Resource Diplomacy” Completely Bankrupt

Signature initiative to secure natural resources failed spectacularly.

Lee Myung-bak’s “Resource Diplomacy” Completely Bankrupt

Photo: Lee Myung-bak.  Credit: Office of the President.

One of the Lee Myung-bak 이명박 administration’s signature foreign policy initiatives was “Resource Diplomacy” 자원외교, a KRW 26t (USD 22.1b) investment in various resource extraction projects around the world in an effort to secure a future supply of natural resources. Today, nearly all of them are bankrupt.

On October 17, the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) 한국석유공사 announced it would pay more than USD 50m to JSC Zarubezhneft, a Russian state-controlled oil company, to take KNOC’s 75% stake in an offshore natural gas extraction platform in Vietnam. The offshore platform’s production of natural gas has declined significantly since 2015, making it unprofitable.

Similarly, numerous projects around the world - including a nickel mine in Madagascar, an iron mine in Canada and shale gas and oil fields in the United States - lost between 80% to 100% of their value.

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