* Seeks to expand business in U.S. shale gas sector
* Plans to invest about $1.6 bln in U.S. over the next five years
* KOGAS signs MOU with Exxon Mobil, Energy Transfer for LNG projects
SEOUL, June 29 (Reuters) - South Korean energy conglomerate SK Group signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with General Electric on Thursday to jointly develop U.S. shale gas fields in a bid to expand in the U.S. shale gas sector.
The partnership with GE will help SK Group bring in U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) to South Korea as well as onsell it to other countries amid growing U.S. LNG exports, SK Group said in a statement.
The deal was signed a day ahead of a planned summit meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington.
South Korea, the world's second-biggest LNG importer, has encouraged local gas companies to invest in U.S. gas projects amid expectations that more opportunities will arise under a Trump administration.
SK Group said it planned to invest 1.8 trillion won ($1.6 billion) in the United States over the next five years and would seek up to 5 trillion won worth of potential investment opportunities.
The investment would also help the United States export about 2 trillion won of U.S.-origin LNG per year and narrow a trade gap between the two countries, the company said in the statement.
Also on Thursday, Korea Gas Corp, the world's second-biggest LNG buyer, said it signed an MOU with U.S. companies including Exxon Mobil and Energy Transfer for cooperation in U.S. LNG projects.
KOGAS is set to receive its first LNG cargo under a 20-year deal with U.S. exporter Cheniere Energy in early July.
In January this year, SK E&S, SK Group's power and gas arm, imported South Korea's first spot cargo of U.S. shale gas from Cheniere Energy Inc. SK E&S is also set to bring in 2.2 million tonnes a year of U.S. LNG from 2019 through 2039.
$1 = 1,139.2000 won Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Richard Pullin