Gov’t Repeats Opposition to Thai-VN Venture

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.


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