Gov’t: Chevron Tax Talks Delay Oil Drilling

Cambodia and US oil giant Chev­ron Corp have so far failed to reach agreements on the future taxing of oil revenues, further delaying the start of oil extraction in Cambodia’s much-touted offshore Block A, officials said this week.

Cabinet Minister Sok An, who is also chairman of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, told members of a visiting International Monetary Fund delegation Mon­day that Cambodia is trying to bargain for greater tax revenues and that without an agreement, Chev­ron’s drilling campaign, most re­cently planned for 2011, could not begin, according to Council of Min­isters adviser Pen Ngoeun.

“There have been discussions between the Finance Ministry and Chevron about an agreement on fiscal matters,” he said. “There is no agreement, and in the discussion process, each side is seeking to secure a profit since it’s related to the oil extraction.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabi­net last month also announced that he had called for Chevron to speed its work in Block A.

Chevron’s public affairs office in Bangkok on Tuesday referred questions to a regional spokesman who was traveling and did not immediately respond to e-mailed queries.

Reached by telephone in Singa­pore on Tuesday, CNPA Vice Chairman Ho Vichet declined to comment and referred questions to CNPA Director-General Te Duong Tara, who could not be reached.

Chevron owns a 55 percent stake in the 6,278-square-km offshore Block A in the Gulf of Thailand’s Khmer basin, 130 km from the shore. Other stakeholders include Japan’s Mitsui Oil Exploration Co, which owns 30 percent, and the South Korean joint venture GS Cal­tex, which owns 15 percent.

The CNPA said earlier this year that Chevron expected to extract between 15 and 20 percent of an estimated 500 million barrels of oil in the block starting in 2011. (Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)

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