SK Energy, the energy unit of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, aims to more than triple sales on the mainland by 2010 and plans to list its asphalt trading and processing business in Hong Kong. SK China president Kim Tae-jin said in an interview that the company wanted to forge more partnerships with mainland oil and gas companies even though they competed for resources globally. The company late last month signed a framework agreement to take a 50 per cent stake in a 14.7 billion yuan (HK$16.61 billion) petrochemical plant in Wuhan, central China, being built by China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec). SK Group's operations span oil refining, petrochemicals, telecommunications and information technology. It accounts for 40 per cent of all petrochemical products supplied in South Korea and is a major exporter of fuel and petrochemicals to the mainland. Mr Kim said SK Energy was targeting 5 trillion won (HK$39.12 billion) in sales on the mainland in 2010. Sales totalled 1.5 trillion won in last year's first half. 'Considering the establishment of the Wuhan petrochemical joint venture, the goal will likely be exceeded earlier than expected,' he said. The company recorded sales of 27.7 trillion won last year, of which 15.7 trillion won came from exports. SK was studying the feasibility of listing its mainland asphalt business, which sold 1.3 million tonnes of the material in the domestic market last year, Mr Kim said. It has yet to appoint a listing sponsor. 'We are looking at Hong Kong, Shanghai and London as possible listing venues, with Hong Kong the first choice at the moment,' he said. Eighty per cent of asphalt sales volume came from South Korea, with the remainder processed on the mainland through seven joint ventures using materials from Korea. The joint ventures recorded a total pre-tax profit of 75 million yuan on sales of 520 million yuan. Targeted sales for this year total 700 million yuan on volume of 370,000 tonnes. Mr Kim said SK was looking at coal mines in Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces, among the country's largest coal-producing regions. It linked up with SK Gas in July last year to buy 32 per cent of Shanxi's Pingding coal mine, which will have an annual capacity of 1.8 million tonnes when it comes on stream late next year. Mr Kim called for greater co-operation between mainland and South Korean firms in overseas exploration and production of oil and gas, strategic fuel storage and refining and petrochemicals. Meanwhile, taking advantage of the country's fuel shortage, SK Energy plans to export 1 million barrels of petrol to the mainland per month from next month. It also plans to export 4.65 million barrels of diesel to the mainland this year, up from 4.55 million barrels last year.