Sok An Says Government To Study Petroleum Sector Job Creation

The government plans to study the number of Cambodians who could ultimately be employed in the nascent petroleum sector and the governing bodies that will regulate it, Cabinet Minister Sok An said Friday.

“We would like to know by deep study how many, the quantity and qua­lity, of the human resources that we can include into our new mechanisms for management of this sector,” Sok An said in remarks to close a three-day UNDP-sponsored conference on oil and gas in Phnom Penh.

“We would also like to predict what will be the quantity and the quality of the people that can be used by this oil and gas sector in Cambodia,” said Sok An, who is also chairman of the Cambodian Na­tional Petroleum Authority.

By 2012, the annual number of graduating high school students will more than triple to 200,000, said Sok An, who also told the conference in prepared remarks that the oil industry tends only to employ a few, highly skilled workers.

The International Labor Organi­zation estimated last year that the Cam­bodian labor market has had 275,000 new entrants every year since 2004.

Sok An said that, while the civil service can currently absorb only 5,000 to 6,000 new employees per year, the data used to channel workers to the oil sector may be a model in future job placement by the government, which hopes to establish “employment agencies.”

At a press conference Friday afternoon, CNPA Director-General Te Duong Tara said the government is currently in discussions to chose the best of six options to extract oil from offshore exploration Block A, which is controlled by Chevron and where the Japanese firm Mitsui Oil Ex­ploration also holds a 30 percent stake.

Te Duong Tara told reporters on Thursday that the government thought 15 to 20 percent of an estimated 500 million barrels could ultimately be extracted from the block.

Extraction options include floating concrete platforms and a Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading unit, or FPSO, he said Friday.

“This is a kind of boat that you can bring the oil up on the boat and process and separate it,” he said, adding that such operations, at $120,000 to $130,000 per day, could be prohibitively costly.

Te Duong Tara also said that the Norwegian firm Petroleum Geo-Services had recently begun airborne gravity surveys to help determine the extent of oil deposits in the Tonle Sap Basin, where seismic surveys have yet to be performed.

“We hope that the basin is enough to generate oil and gas but the next step we will tell you later,” he said.

The US-based firm ATI Petro­leum announced this month it ex­pected to sign an agreement this year for exploration rights in Cam­bodia’s onshore blocks 10 and 15.


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