South Korea\'s commerce minister called on the country\'s energy firms to actively take part in the global development of shale gas, Yonhap News Agency reported. \"We must quickly set up a strategic plan to join the global efforts develop shale gas when considering the impact the development of shale gas in the North American region will have on our petrochemical firms,\" Yoon Sang-jick, the minister of trade, industry and energy, was quoted as saying in a special meeting with heads of energy companies in Seoul. Yoon also noted the price competitiveness of the country\'s petrochemical companies was expected to weaken significantly once their American competitors set up new production facilities that use shale gas in the near future. Shale gas is natural gas deposited in shale formation, which, up until recently years, had been considered uneconomical mostly due to a lack of technology to extract the gas. The recent development of the so-called fracturing technology has made the gas newly available, and the gas is often referred to as a game changer for its significantly lower price than that of conventional petroleum gas. To help minimize any impact on the local industry from the development of shale gas, the South Korean government and local energy firms agreed to consider establishing overseas facilities that will develop and produce natural gas, including shale gas, the ministry said in a press release, according to the report. They have also agreed to jointly develop new technologies and production facilities for the petrochemical industry, which will allow price competitiveness against shale gas-based products.