Sept 22, 2011
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN : The Thai government is preparing to reopen talks with Cambodia on the oil-rich overlapping claims area (OCA), says Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan.
"I have met with Dr Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy of Cambodia and we agree that the development of OCA is highly likely," Mr Pichai said at the Asean Energy Business Forum in Brunei.
Pichai: Optimistic on OCA, with caveats
"But this doesn't necessarily mean we will drill for oil as a lot of preparation and negotiation are required."
He said previous agreements to share petroleum resources with neighbouring countries took more than a decade to materialise.
"Thailand and Malaysia took 26 years from 1979 when the two countries started negotiations to establish the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Authority in 1992, to the first commercial gas extraction in 2005. It will not be as fast and easy as many people think," said the minister.
Mr Pichai said the Foreign Ministry would be responsible for preparing for the talks with the Energy Ministry providing technical support. Whether the talks with Cambodia would be based on a memorandum of understanding that was agreed on in 2001 would be decided by the Foreign Ministry.
"Thai consumers should realise liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the Gulf of Thailand will be depleted within 16 years," said Mr Pichai.
Pailin Chuchottaworn, the president and chief executive of PTT Plc, said the region should focus more on energy efficiency to use resources more wisely, while scrapping price-fixing policies and promoting energy saving.
"Many countries in the region have heavily subsidised energy prices that distort the market and don't give consumers any incentive to be concerned about efficient use," said Mr Pailin.
He added most Asean countries are net oil importers, with eight of the 10 members depending on crude imports. Asean is projected to import 315,786 kilotonnes of oil equivalent by 2030, he said.
"This makes Asean more vulnerable to disruptions in energy supply. Our consumption of energy in the next 15 to 20 years will double, yet we have very limited reserves," he said, noting Asean's oil and gas production would keep declining.