US oil giant Chevron has spent $100 million drilling exploratory wells in Cambodia’s offshore Block A, the head of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority said Feb 23.
“Chevron has already drilled 14 wells so far…. It only drills wells to gather resource data; it’s not drilling to bring oil up,” CNPA General-Director Te Duong Tara told reporters during a break at an economic conference in Phnom Penh.
During a presentation at the conference, Te Duong Tara said that Chevron’s latest test well was producing 800 barrels of sweet crude oil per day.
“Chevron will continue to drill every year to collect enough data to analyze and create a development plan,” he told reporters, adding that the CNPA expects to see oil and gas production up and running by 2009.
Te Duong Tara said that other oil companies were beginning their operations, but he declined to disclose how much they had spent to date.
He declined to give any estimates as to the size of the oil reserves the offshore blocks might contain.
On a previous occasion, however, Te Duong Tara had said that he expected annual production to reach 500 million barrels of crude oil and 3 to 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas before the end of 2009—rates he said should be sustainable for four decades.
Speaking on the same conference panel as Te Duong Tara, UN Development Program Resident Coordinator Douglas Gardner cautioned the government to adopt specific measures to ensure that the predicted oil wealth would benefit the populace.
US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli, also a panelist, stressed the need for Cambodia to be as transparent as possible in its dealings with oil companies. He offered a host of recommendations to the Cambodian government including developing a petroleum law, creating a freedom of information law, joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and passing the anti-corruption law.
“Cambodia has the opportunity to learn from the failures of some countries and build on the successes of others,” Mussomeli said.
Te Duong Tara said that he was sure that the government would not spend any oil and gas money foolishly.
“We came from a very poor base, so our way of spending will be very careful,” he said.