Prime Minister Hun Sen has approved the formation of a coalition task force of government officials and representatives of the US-based Chevron Overseas Petroleum (Cambodia) Ltd to conduct exploration for natural gas in Cambodian waters, according to a leaked Council of Ministers sub-decree.
The eight Cambodian members of the task force—approved by the prime minister June 22—includes Deputy Prime Minister Sok An as its chairman, National Petroleum Authority Director Te Doung Tara, and representatives from Electricite du Cambodge and the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.
Sub-decrees are officially public documents but are often guarded by the Council.
Ty Norin, deputy president of Electricite du Cambodge and a member of the task force, said the partnership aims to determine the extent of Cambodia’s reserves and its domestic demand.
He added that a few reserves have been located, but would not elaborate on their potential for production.
The EdC and Chevron are studying the possibility of using natural gas to produce electricity, Ty Norin said.
A call to a number given for the Chevron country director reached a woman who declined to give her name and referred questions to the National Petroleum Authority.
Te Doung Tara refused to comment Monday on the cooperation between the government and Chevron. Phone calls placed to Sok An were unsuccessful on Monday.
The ChevronTexaco Corporation’s Web site confirms the Cambodian exploration venture and mentions “a growing presence in developing combined-cycle gas plants to generate electricity.”
According to the Council of Ministers sub-decree, the task force has also been charged with formulating a plan to encourage investment in natural gas exploration and deciding how Cambodia would use its natural gas.
“Natural gas is very important to Cambodia because it is our own natural resource,” Ty Norin said.
ChevronTexaco and its subsidiaries operate in more than 30 Asia-Pacific nations. It is a leading producer of oil in China, Thailand and Indonesia.