From: Ker Munthit, Associated Press
Published January 16, 2007 12:00 AM

Cambodia Says Asian, European Companies Are Flocking to the Country in Search of Oil

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Scores of Asian and European companies have expressed an interest in tapping Cambodia's oil wealth, though it will be years before the country realizes the benefits from its offshore reserves, a government official said Tuesday.

Te Duong Tara, the director-general of Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, told The Associated Press Tuesday that the country was still assessing the situation and was a "long way" from reaching a production phase.

Impoverished Cambodia was set abuzz in 2005 following the discovery of oil off the southwestern coast by U.S. energy giant Chevron Corp.

Since then, Te Duong Tara said oil firms from Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, France, Indonesia and China, have been lining up for licenses to explore other potential blocks in the Cambodian waters.

The Chinese state-owned oil company CNOOC Ltd. is presently negotiating terms of agreement with the Cambodian government, which could be signed in the near future, he said without elaborating.

"We are bringing in highly experienced operators," Te Duong Tara said on the sidelines of a petroleum seminar.

Chevron, meanwhile, is conducting exploration drillings in Block A where it first discovered oil, a site located about 87 miles southwest of the seaport of Sihanoukville, which is about 115 miles southwest of the capital, Phnom Penh.

The company discovered crude oil in 2005 in four wells in the block and has plans to drill 10 more through 2007.

Te Duong Tara said that oil revenues could have a "profound" impact on the future of Cambodia, where 35 percent of the country's 14 million people live below national poverty line of 50 cents a day.

Source: Associated Press

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