Family Digs Water Well, Finds Natural Gas

A 50-year-old Phnom Penh woman and her husband have found the answer to their energy problems with the discovery of a natural gas reservoir in their Russei Keo district front lawn.

Yim Vanna and her husband, Yung Savun, 63, found the gas reservoir accidentally, the couple said Wednesday. They were digging what they hoped would be a water well in their yard when they found the gas.

Laborers struck water and had just inserted a pipe, when they were all hit by the force of the water springing from the well, Yim Vanna said.

“The diggers all ran away,” she said, laughing.

When the gushing water calmed, the family used plastic to plug the pipe. The next day, the couple’s son smelled gas near the well. He struck a cigarette lighter close to the open pipe and it ignited—“just like cooking gas,” Yim Vanna said.

Government officials believe the flammable gas is methane, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Industry Secretary of State Ith Praing said.

“In the 1960s, this area was filled with dirt after they dredged the banks of the Tonle Sap river,” he said. The dead vegetation covered by the dirt must have decayed, eventually producing the “bio-gas,” according to Ith Praing.

The couple is already piping the gas into their home and hope to be using it for cooking fuel and heat soon.

“I already cooked a pie near the well,” Yim Vanna said. “If [the gas] lasts long, I will be lucky. I will connect it to my kitchen.”


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