Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Oil exploration license for Chinese firm expected ‘soon’

People fill up a gasoline. Panha Chhorpoan

An oil exploration license is expected to be signed “soon” with a Chinese company for the exploration of Block D in the Gulf of Thailand, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

Block D is a 5,500-square-kilometer concession formerly licensed to Cambodian firm CPHL. The previous license was revoked in 2016, reportedly due to failure to meet the terms of the agreement.

In a phone interview on Thursday, Cheap Sour, director-general for the Energy Ministry’s petroleum department, said negotiations with China-based Cambodian Resource Energy Development were being finalized.

“We’ve almost agreed on the terms with each other, and soon we will reach the signing of an oil agreement and they can start the process of exploration,” Sour said, adding that he could not provide details about the company.

Searches online and on the Commerce Ministry’s companies database on
Thursday returned no contact information for the company.

Sour said it was unclear how much potential oil was present in Block D, as it was still in an early stage of exploration.

“We can’t provide an estimate of the oil in the block. We have only divided the zones into blocks so that they can be explored,” he said.

Offshore Block A in the Gulf of Thailand is the only zone that has been confirmed to have oil, Sour added.

Singapore-based oil and gas firm KrisEnergy bought the license to Block A from Chevron for $65 million in 2017.

Sour said that the government was separately still negotiating terms with
Canadian firm EnerCam Resources for an exploration license in onshore Block VIII in Preah Sihanouk province.

“There are many more steps to go, but in the future, we will create a ministerial working group and sign an oil agreement with this Canadian company,” Sour said.

In a statement dated August 13, Angkor Gold said its subsidiary, EnerCam
Resources, had received approval from the Cambodian government to explore the 7300-square kilometer oil and gas concession.

“This is a major milestone for Angkor,” Angkor CEO Stephen Burega said in the statement. “Angkor is the first Canadian exploration company to be granted this level of approval to pursue oil and gas opportunities in Cambodia.”

Angkor Gold is listed on Toronto Stock Exchange and is also exploring for
minerals, including gold, in Cambodia.