Talks to end the long-running conflict between Thailand and Cambodia, which both nations claiming ownership of offshore petroleum blocks in their overlapping maritime territories is finally expected to resume after a delay of 20 years.
Outgoing Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said this when bidding farewell to Thai energy ministry executives after resigning from the Thai cabinet last Thursday.
Thailand and Cambodia have been locked in disputes over some 27,000 square kilometers of open waters which promises to hold untold black gold, both oil as well as gas.
Cambodia has already sold three of the blocks some since 1997 but have yet to commence work due to the ongoing stalemate, among which are the percentage of revenue or yield sharing.
In 2019, Thailand and Cambodia reached an agreement to resume talks in a meeting between the Cambodian Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Thai Energy Ministry held in Bangkok
After nearly two decades of hiatus, Cambodia and Thailand had agreed to resume talks on development of their overlapping claims area (OCA) on offshore oil fields, on the principle that it should be developed based on mutual interests.
Cambodia and Thailand have claimed sovereignty of the OCA, a 27,000-square-kilometre area in the Gulf of Thailand that is believed to be rich in oil and gas.
Cambodia and Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2001 to set a joint-development regime over certain areas of the OCA and attempt to demarcate a maritime border between others. Thailand, however, suspended the agreement in 2009.
Macquarie Securities, in a 2015 report stated that the OCA’s reserves potentially exceed those of Thailand’s remaining proved (1P) reserves and development would trigger an investment boom of up to $35 billion (2015 prices).
The dispute has been ongoing for some 45 years now and the OCA sits on part of the Pattani Basin – the undisputed Thai section of which continues to be the country’s most prolific oil and gas producing geological resource.
Macquarie Securities speculatively estimates that the OCA’s oil and gas reserve potential could be massive: at 1.4 to 3.6bnboe this could exceed Thailand’s current remaining oil and gas reserves.
Cambodia licensed the OCA by separating it into 4 blocks: Areas 1 to 4. Conoco Philips, Total and Idemitsu are concession holders.
Area 4 was relinquished by BHP/Inpex in 2007 and a Chinese state oil major JV with a Malaysian company is now believed to be a licensee.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.