The presidents of Uzbekistan and South Korea said Tuesday that the construction of a $2.6 billion chemicals plant near Uzbekistan's Surgil gas field had started. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited Uzbekistan and talked with his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov in May. Two state-run South Korean companies then agreed to help finance the plant's construction and develop the Surgil gas field near the Aral Sea. A government source said earlier that a consortium of South Korea's Samsung Engineering, GS Engineering and Hyundai Engineering had signed a $2.1 billion contract with the Uzbek-Korean joint venture Uz-Kor GasChemical to build the technological part of the plant. "The visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to Uzbekistan launched the construction of the Ustyurt chemicals plant," Uzbek President Islam Karimov said following his talks with the South Korean leader on Tuesday. This will be the second chemicals plant in Uzbekistan. The Surgil gas field was discovered about two years ago and is being developed by the Uzbekneftegaz company. Some estimates suggest it might contain 120 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) already holds exploration rights to another two oil and gas fields in Uzbekistan.