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Foreign bids for oil

T EN foreign firms have lodged bids with the Cambodian government for the right to explore for oil and gas in the Gulf of Thailand, mines and energy minister Pou Sothirak said on Nov 24.

Sothirak said the bids were for four new concessions, including an on-shore block in northwest Pursat province where insurgent Khmer Rouge guerrillas have bases.

"The Royal Government has released four blocks. Blocks five, six and seven are offshore and block 10 is on shore. They're for foreign bidders," Sothirak told Reuters.

He said the 10 bids, each enclosed with a $5,000 non-refundable fee, were from British, U.S., Malaysian and Japanese firms.

The concessions lie within Cambodian territory and are unaffected by overlapping boundary claims from neighboring Thailand, he said.

British explorers Enterprise Oil and Premier Oil and Japan's Campex consortium have all sunk successful test wells in Cambodia this year.

Enterprise Oil said last September that one of its test wells yielded 4.7 million cubic feet (133,000 cubic meters) of gas and 180 barrels per day of light condensate crude.

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