SK recognized for investments in East Timor's sustainable development

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, second from left, exchanges gifts with East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta, right, after their meeting at the group’s headquarters in Seoul, Friday. Screenshot from Facebook

By Park Jae-hyuk

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won met with East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta last Friday at the group’s headquarters in Seoul, joined by the chief executives of SK E&S and SK Forest, both of which are doing business in the Southeast Asian country.

Last Saturday, the East Timorese foreign ministry uploaded photos of the meeting on Facebook.

“Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Adaljiza Magno accompanied President Jose Ramos-Horta in a meeting with SK E&S and SK Forest,” the ministry said. “SK E&S is a company that has a share in Bayu-Undan carbon capture storage and SK Forest has invested in East Timor.”

The photos showed that SK E&S CEO Choo Hyeong-wook and SK Forest CEO Son Dae-ik participated in the meeting and that Chey and Ramos-Horta exchanged gifts.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, third from left, participates in a meeting with East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta, fourth from right, along with SK E&S CEO Choo Hyeong-wook, fourth from left, and SK Forest CEO Son Dae-ik, second from left, at the group’s headquarters in Seoul, Friday. Screenshot from Facebook

Although SK Group has remained silent on the details of what the participants discussed during the meeting, the East Timorese leader is presumed to have appreciated the Korean conglomerate’s support for his country’s sustainable growth and asked for additional investments.

Since March last year, SK E&S has been trying to get approvals from Australia and East Timor to transform the depleted Bayu-Undan gas field off the coast of East Timor into a carbon capture and storage facility, which will manage carbon dioxide emitted from SK Group’s facilities in Korea and Australia. The Korean energy firm plans to make the final decision on this investment by 2025, with the aim to finish building the facility by 2030.

SK Forest joined hands with East Timor’s agriculture ministry last year to afforest the country, as part of SK Group’s efforts to secure certified emission reduction, in line with its plan to achieve net-zero by 2040.

After his meeting with the SK Group chairman, the East Timorese leader had a summit with President Yoon Suk Yeol. The Korean presidential office said in a press release last Friday that both countries agreed to cooperate more substantively in various areas such as development, labor, education and forestry.

The Portuguese news agency Lusa reported that the East Timorese president said after the summit that Korea wants to see an increase in the number of seasonal agricultural workers.

“What I intend is to attract larger investments from banks, insurers and companies like Samsung,” Ramos-Horta also said, according to the news agency.