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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia’s oil imports rise

Cambodia’s oil imports rise

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An attendant pumps petrol into the tank of a motorbike at a Total station in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia imported approximately 1.2 billion tonnes of petroleum in the first nine months of the year, up 12.51 per cent from the 1.1 billion tonnes in the same period last year, statistics from the Ministry of Commerce showed last week.

From January to September, Cambodia bought about US$1.2 billion worth of petroleum, a 18.65 per cent increase, according to the same statistics.

Bin May Mialia, commercial manager for the Thai-based PTT Oil Company, said this year the oil price fluctuated greatly off the back of high demand for petroleum.

“The spending increase is not relevant to the quantity of oil imported. The increase is caused by fluctuations in the global oil price,” he said. “Mostly, demand rose after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan which hit their nuclear power station, causing their consumption of oil to grow,” said Bin May Mialia.

Although his petrol stations have not seen an increase, he also noted that Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN may have contributed to the increase in oil imports. “For my stations, we haven’t seen much of an increase in the amount we import. It’s almost the same as last year,” he said.

“But, we noticed that the consumption in jet oil is increasing due to Cambodia hosting the ASEAN summit, meaning more incoming flights,” he added.

The government anticipated seeing the country’s first drop in oil imports as Cambodia’s Block A offshore operations – licensed to Chevron – start operations in December. However, the Post recently reported the start date will be delayed until 2016.

Although Cambodia will gain about $500 million per year from the offshore oil, it will not cause a decline in retail oil prices, according to comments previously made by Mam Sambath, director of Development Partnership in Action, to the Post.

“It could decline if the government can attract investors for a refinery factory or the government can subsidise the price more,” he said.

Cambodia’s demand for oil has increased in recent years, following the country’s economic expansion and the increasing number of vehicles on the road.

The government expects demand to climb to three or four million tonnes in coming years.

Cambodia now buys petroleum from Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at kunmakara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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