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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oil blocks to remain open

Oil blocks to remain open

The government said yesterday it would postpone bidding on two vacated offshore oil blocks given the low global levels of investment flowing into petroleum exploration activities.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy revoked the exploration licences of Resourceful Petroleum Limited last month after the Malaysian business failed to make any significant progress toward the exploration of Block B and Block F in the Gulf of Thailand.

Given the current slump in global oil prices, the government will adopt a wait-and-see approach before issuing exploration licences to new firms, ministry spokesman Meng Saktheara said yesterday.

“It is not a good time to open [the blocks] for new bidding, as we are looking to open them when we see high profitability from the investment,” he said.

“Nowadays, oil prices are still low, even for existing licence holders, so firms are reluctant start operations.”

The Cambodian government has divided the country into six offshore blocks and 19 onshore blocks. There are a further four areas in an overlapping claims area that is currently contested with Thailand.

KrisEnergy is currently the only company making progress in its negotiations with the government to secure a production licence.

In August 2014, the Singapore-based upstream oil and gas firm acquired Chevron’s 30 per cent stake in Block A, adding to its existing 25 per cent stake, giving it a controlling majority in the project.

At the time, KrisEnergy said that the site had the potential to produce 10,000 barrels of oil per day.

Of the country’s onshore blocks, PetroVietnam, a Vietnamese state-owned oil and gas company, is exploring Block XV and is set to conduct exploratory drilling later this year.

Brent Crude price at the time of print yesterday was just above $33 a barrel, down from its high last year of $67.77 per barrel.

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