|GS Group headquarters in southern Seoul / Korea Times file|
By Yi Whan-woo
GS Group, the country's eighth-largest conglomerate, is not considered to be as agile as other large business groups when it comes to the speed of transition toward eco-friendly businesses.
Some industry sources claimed, Wednesday, that the conglomerate's flagship affiliate, GS Caltex, also one of Korea's four major refineries, is hindered in its attempts to transition due to a 50 percent stake owned by U.S. oil giant Chevron.
The other half is owned by GS Energy, a holding company that oversees the conglomerate's entire energy business, from overseas resources to oil refining and producing liquefied natural gas (LNG).
"Having half of its stakes held by Chevron may make GS Caltex not fully independent to shift away from the refinery business at its own pace," a source familiar with the Korean company said.
The source pointed out that Chevron announced a plan this year to expand oil and gas production through 2025, but has not outlined the specifics on spending.
The refinery business accounted for 85 percent of GS Caltex's total sales in the first half of this year, while petrochemicals accounted for another 12 percent of revenue.
"The shareholding structure of GS Caltex, therefore, can be said to be influencing GS Group's broader strategy to go green in one way or another," the second source said.
|A night view of a GS Caltex oil refinery facility in Yeosu, South Jeolla Province / Korea Times file|
The Korean company, of course, seeks to comply with the world's goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It formed a partnership with state-run utility Korea-West Power Co. to set up a 15 megawatt hydrogen fuel cell plant by 2023.
GS Caltex also jointly opened a hydrogen fueling station in Seoul with Hyundai Motor and agreed to cooperate with POSCO in hydrogen production.
Sources did point out, however, that GS Caltex's green strategies are not as aggressive as three other major refineries here ― SK Innovation, Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil ― which have been investing massive amounts of money to nurture green energy.
"GS Caltex is merely capitalizing on its existing gas stations and other infrastructure to reduce carbon dioxide," another source said.