Joint Exploration at Sea Won’t Affect Border Demarcation: PM

Prime Minister Hun Manet addresses annual meeting of Ministry of Labor on Feb. 8. Photo: STPM/Telegram

PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Manet gave an assurance on Feb. 8 that joint exploration for undersea oil in areas in dispute will not affect border demarcation with Thailand.

Instead, the exploration in the overlapping claim area (OCA) will give Cambodia a much-needed source of energy in the long term.

During his visit in Bangkok a day earlier, Hun Manet and his Thai counterpart Srettha Thavisin agreed to continue talks on the joint exploration of resources in OCA at the Gulf of Thailand.

Talks on the area, covering the 27,000 square kilometers rich in gas and oil, have stalled since the early 2000s.

Hun Manet said Cambodia will keep talking to Thailand on carefully demarcating the sea border to protect national sovereignty and interests and on the other hand look into jointly exploiting the natural resources which will help both countries reduce dependance on outside sources.

“Energy security is a long-term strategy for both countries. Nothing can be processed without energy,” he said during an annual conference of the Ministry of Labor.

Cambodia has used different sources to fill its energy demand, including hydro-power, solar and biomass while importing electricity from neighboring countries. The country also imports large amounts of fuel for vehicles.

The PM said extracting energy resources from the OCA will help Cambodia to breath on its own. He said importing oil from others will have impacts including price and possible instability in supply, citing the tension in the Middle East and Red Sea which are causing an increase in shipping costs.

“We need to reduce dependence on other and need to be self-reliance including the energy sector. The joint exploration will open the corridor for joint study and get benefit from oil together,” he said.

Hun Manet said once extracted, the oil and gas can be sold to others while the factory could be established to refine the oil into fuel and petroleum so that imports will be reduced. He said the country could also open a petrochemical industry, thus creating jobs.

He said the joint development is not against the national interest and joint exploration will not affect Cambodia’s sovereignty in border talks with Thailand.

“The sea border demarcation will continue at technical-level,” he said.   

He said that previous government had committed to negotiate with other countries on border th so that people from the next generation won’t have to fight over such issues.

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