The government has invited a small US oil and gas firm to discuss exploring for oil in the Tonle Sap basin. A team from the X-Change Corporation, a company that has never posted any sales, will arrive in mid-March, officials confirmed.
The National Petroleum Authority sent a letter to the company on Wednesday, inviting representatives to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.
“I called them to come,” said a Cambodian petroleum industry expert who asked not to be identified.
If a study takes place following the forthcoming talks, it will be conducted onshore, outside of the Unesco-protected Tonle Sap biosphere, the expert added.
“The study does not need a big company,” he said. “The big [company] will need to buy a contract from the small [company] when oil and gas are found.”
A news release from the company’s public relations service said that “representatives from the X-Change Corporation are confident and optimistic that the company can gain a contract to develop the field.”
According to filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the X-Change Corporation has never posted any sales.
Registered as a machine tools company, X-Change was at one time known by several different names, including International KC Jakes BBQ and Grill. In 2002, it merged with WEBix, an information technology company. The agreement was rescinded a year later.
In 2003, X-Change acquired a radio communication company called AirGate that formed an agreement with the port of Ho Chi Minh City for radio communications, before X-Change sold 100 percent of its ownership to its CEO who resigned. The same day, Sept 30, 2004, X-Change acquired Kolt Oil and Gas and installed Kolt petroleum experts as its new management team. It currently owns about 50 oil wells in Texas. X-Change has $28 million in capitalization and 10 employees.
Minister of Environment Mok Mareth said that while exploration outside of the Tonle Sap biosphere is legal, any development should be studied carefully for its environmental impact.
The petroleum expert said that the chances of Cambodian soil having oil is good, but the chances of coal are greater.
“Cambodia could have at least 20 million tons of coal,” he said. “If the nation wants cheap electricity, the government should develop coal mines.”