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The Korean Peninsula forms part of the southern edge of the North China Craton (Amurian Plate) which also underlies Manchuria, Western Japan and the Russian Province of Primorsky Krai.
The plate is moving southeastwards with respect to the Eurasian Plate, colliding with the Philippine Sea Plate in the south. The Korean Peninsula is some distance from this margin and is largely comprised of basement metamorphic rocks and volcanics with small areas of Palaeozoic sedimentary accumulation, notably the Pyongyang basin.
A number of younger intra-cratonic basins are present along the western and eastern coastal plain containing sequences of Mesozoic and Cenozoic sediments, extending offshore into Korea Bay on the west and into the Sea of Japan on the east.
The western offshore Sohae Basin, also known as the Korea Bay Basin, and adjacent sub-basins, Sinuiju to its north, and Anju-Sukchon, Zaeryong and Onchon to its east, are rifted lacustrine basins formed on the basement of the North China Craton at the end of the Cretaceous. Geology is uncertain but they probably have similarities with the Bohai Basin in China. Here, during the syn-rift stage, a series of grabens and half grabens developed along northwest and northeast trending fault sets before becoming one large post-rift basin during the late Oligocene. Sediments were deposited in a lake setting within these grabens with post-rift sediments dominated by fluvial deposits.
Little is known about the geology of the eastern offshore rifted Tonghae basin in the shallow and deep waters of the Sea of Japan or of the Kyongson basin to its north with the adjacent Kilchu onshore basin near to the Russian border. There are no nearby analogous producing areas and, if there is any potential, it is probably only for gas.
Korea (North) thus has no oil and gas potential recognised by Globalshift although there may be opportunities for oil and gas accumulations both onshore and offshore in a number of the sedimentary basins, especially offshore Sohae.