Cambodia’s Oil Dreams Remain Afloat

A Canadian firm is studying whether to restart extracting oil in Cambodia after more than two decades that have been dogged by stakeholders withdrawing, the theft of a tanker and disputes over pay.
A gas station worker fills in a motorcycle in Phnom Penh, August 2, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A gas station worker fills in a motorcycle in Phnom Penh, August 2, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa

A Canadian firm is continuing to study an analysis and review data before deciding whether to restart extracting oil in Cambodia's Block A in the Gulf of Thailand, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Cambodia’s Block A was the center of Chevron’s discovery of oil in early-2000 but it failed to launch production. In 2014, Chevron sold the block to Singapore-listed oil and gas firm KrisEnergy for $65 million, with the ambition to produce the country’s first drop of oil.

However, KrisEnergy, which owns a 95 percent stake in the offshore Apsara field, announced liquidation in December 2020. It claimed that cost overruns and poor oil yields from the project had left the company unable to repay debt.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Cheap Sour, Director General of the General Department of Petroleum, Ministry of Mines and Energy, said EnerCam Resources Corp, an energy subsidiary of Angkor Resources Corp, is still studying the analysis and reviewing data.

“The company’s study is not over yet,” Sour told Kiripost. “When the company finishes the study, we need to discuss the results, including the agreement, [and] whether we can accept or not,” he said.

“If there is an agreement on pumping oil, it will definitely bring economic benefits for Cambodia in the future.”

The Cambodian government has also filed a complaint of theft against a tanker after it sailed away with crude oil in the wake of a dispute over pay with KrisEnergy. The tanker, MT Strovolos, was detained by the Indonesian Navy last year.

Sour said it has been progressive, with attempts to get the crude oil back to Cambodia. However, there is a long way to go.

“In the future. I cannot yet predict in how many months this will end,” Sour said.

Delayne Weeks, CEO of Angkor Resources Corp, said that the decision rests with the Cambodian government to decide whether or not to have the agreement.

"Until we have an agreement with the government, there is nothing to comment on. We continue to provide possibilities to MME and MEF, but the decision is theirs," Weeks told Kiripost in email.

In a statement dated June 28, the company said EnerCam has completed a comprehensive report on the issues, its potential, and the results of the production study from the Apsara pool. It submitted it to the Cambodian Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) in March, 2022.

Following review of the report, MME further requested EnerCam undertake an inspection and assessment of the offshore facilities in early May, the statement said.

“Since then, to advance the feasibility of restarting production, EnerCam and technical personnel from MME have collaborated in an analysis and review of all available data of the concession, which is 100 percent owned and controlled by MME.”

A technical presentation to MME regarding the results and the option to restart production was scheduled for early-July, 2022, the statement said.