The Kingdom imported 412,190 tonnes of petroleum in the first quarter of 2013, compared with 471,000 tonnes in the same period the previous year, a decline of 12 per cent, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
A private sector representative said the drop does not mean a slowdown in production but came as a result of more stock being kept over from 2012 because of price fluctuations.
The data showed that between January and March of this year the country spent $397 million on petroleum, down 15 per cent from $469 million during the same period last year.
Nguon Meng Tech, director-general of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said the country’s business activities are still going well and the decline in oil imports does not mean the economy is not progressing.
“Our production sector is growing ... we still produce more goods for export. So I think the decline is caused by the fact that most of the gasoline stations have been importing [to fill up their] stocks during the [time of low] prices,” he said.
Meng Saktheara, director-general of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy said earlier this month that Cambodia currently gets some energy from hydropower and coal plants, helping to reduce reliance on imported petrol.
Bin May Mialia, commercial director at PTT, the Thai state-owned oil company, could not be reached for comment.
Currently, the country purchases petroleum from Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand as its offshore oil and gas reserves have not yet been exploited.
Late last year, locally owed Cambodian Petrochemical Company, a joint-venture with China’s Sinomach China Perfect Machinery Industry Corp invested $2.3 billion to build a refinery on an 80-hectare oil field situated between Preah Sihanouk and Kampot provinces.