Energy imports & consumption
Because of rapid economic growth propelled by the heavy and chemical industries, Korea’s energy consumption has increased sharply since the mid-1970s. Total primary energy consumption (TPES), which stood at 43.9 million tons of oil equivalent (toe) in 1980, increased more than six-fold to 275.7 million toe in 2011, ranking Korea as the 10th largest energy consuming nation in the world. Energy consumption per capita also increased rapidly from 1.1 toe in 1980 to 5.1 toe in 2011.
With poor indigenous energy resources, Korea has to rely almost entire energy demand on imports. In 2011, the dependency rate on imported energy, including nuclear energy, was 96.4 percent. The cost for imported energy amounted to US$ 172.5 billion, which accounted for 32.9 percent of total inbound shipments. Korea energy resources are limited to low-quality anthracite, which accounted for less than 1 percent of total primary energy supply.
Demand for oil has been growing since 1970s, except after the two oil crises of 1973 and 1979. Coal supply has increased in an annual average rate of 5.2% for the past thirty years, but the main use of domestic anthracite has been shifted dramatically from residential sector to power generation sector. Gas was introduced in 1986 in the form of LNG imports and accounted for 17% of the primary energy consumption.