The Cambodian government pledged to continue its opposition to a joint Vietnamese-Thai venture to share petroleum resources in the Gulf of Thailand, while at the same time a huge oil conglomerate was announcing it had won gas and oil rights in one area of the gulf.
Responding to questions from parliamentarians this week, Minister of Cabinet Sok An said Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government are committed to preventing Thailand and Vietnam from sharing natural gas resources without including Cambodia.
“We want the three countries—Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand—to renegotiate the deal,” said Sok An, who heads the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority. “We will not recognize the treaty at any cost.”
Some Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec parliamentarians have suggested the government has been lax in developing Cambodia’s oil and natural gas deposits.
Despite what appear to be large reservoirs of oil and gas in the Cambodian portion of the gulf, at least five different companies have folded trying to exploit them, and the government has received only about $9 million in royalties, Sok An said.
Cambodia and Thailand have been in protracted negotiations concerning overlapping territorial claims to areas of the gulf where exploratory drilling has indicated there are oil and gas deposits.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the US multinational company ChevronTexaco has won a Cambodian government concession allowing it to hold majority shares in the production of oil and natural gas in an area of the gulf claimed by both countries. AP quoted a press release from ChevronTexaco stating that Chevron Overseas Petroleum Ltd, a subsidiary of the global giant, will operate the production, taking a 70 percent interest in 6,278 square km of overlapping areas between Thailand and Cambodia. The other 30 percent of the operations will be given to Mitsui Oil Exploration Company Ltd, the report stated.
ChevronTexaco is the parent company of Caltex, which has one terminal and 28 service stations in Cambodia.
A spokesman for the National Petroleum Authority refused comment Wednesday. A Caltex company official said he could not confirm the report.