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South Korea and Saudi Arabia need oil but eye clean energy

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (AP) – A delegation led by South Korea’s president visiting Saudi Arabia inked a preliminary deal on Tuesday to explore a project to develop a potentially cleaner form of energy.

The development comes even as Saudi Arabia remains South Korea’s top supplier of crude oil.

The visit was the second stop on a Mideast tour by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife, who were greeted on the tarmac by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and an honour guard marching band.

The preliminary deal centres on developing a project in Saudi Arabia to produce green hydrogen for export, according to the state-owned Saudi Press Agency. Supporters of green hydrogen tout it as a less carbon intensive way to power transportation and curb some of the environmentally destructive impacts of burning gasoline and diesel fuel.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by leading executives and officials from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, South Korea’s POSCO and Samsung’s C&T construction and engineering company.

South Korea has been pushing ahead with plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers, last year announced its pledge to reach net-zero by 2060.

Still, both nations deeply depend on oil and gas. Relations between South Korea and Saudi Arabia date to the early 60s, and have been underpinned since by South Korea’s reliance on energy imports to power its manufacturing industries and refineries.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives South Korean President Moon Jae-in at Riyadh international airport, Saudi Arabia. PHOTO: AP

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