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Chevron aims for 2016

Chevron aims for 2016

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Cars queue for petrol at a Caltex station in Phnom Penh last week. The 24 retail stations are Chevron’s most visible mark on the country to date. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Oil production in Cambodia may not begin until 2016, or at least three years after the originally appointed date, Chevron officials reportedly said at a Ministry of Environment meeting on Friday.

Government officials yesterday confirmed the feasibility of the time frame.

If Chevron Overseas Petroleum Cambodia gained approval for a production permit by the end of this year, it could embark on a 34-month process that would lead to drawing oil from Cambodia’s offshore Block A in the Gulf of Thailand, according to people who attended Friday’s meeting.

Details of the process were unavailable yesterday, but would likely include internal investment decisions and agreements with the government, Mam Sambath, director of Development Partnership in Action (DPA), said yesterday, citing information disclosed in the meeting.

The Cambodian National Petroleum Authority said 2016 was a realistic year for oil extraction.

“If everything can come together smoothly, then 34 months would be a reasonable time for production. Two-thousand sixteen is not an unreasonable time frame, given the pace of the current situation,” CNPA spokesman Diep Sareiviseth said yesterday in an email.

December 12, 2012 – or 12-12-12 – was originally designated as the starting date for production, but a government spokesman in January shot down hopes for extraction beginning that soon.

Chevron said in an online statement in April that it hoped to gain approval for production by the end of the year.

Steve Glick, president of Chevron’s Cambodia operations, declined yesterday to comment on a production date. He did, however, shed light on the status of Chevron’s environmental impact assessments, or EIAs.

The Post last week obtained an EIA for Chevron’s production in the offshore oil field. Although the document was the first to be seen by the public, Glick said the company had completed three EIAs, including reports on exploration.

“We’ve been in Cambodia for 10 years . . . and Chevron has put forth two other EIAs during that time,” he said, adding that the company had also completed two environment management programs concerning its operation.

Civil-society groups such as DPA have long sought out the exploration EIAs, which Cambodian law requires.

The EIA labelled impact on the environment and communities as “low” or “insignificant”. Even so, concerns remained on the report.

DPA’s Mam Sambath said potential impact on tourism and fishing communities needed deeper discussion.

“We worry fishermen will not be allowed to go nearby. They could be economically impacted, but this has not been discussed . . . Tourists visit islands near the production site. We don’t know what the impact will be,” he said.

The field is 157 kilometres off Cambodia’s coast.

Chevron drilled 18 exploratory wells before announcing a commercial discovery in 2010. It has a 30 per cent stake in Block A, also known as the Apsara field.

The production EIA, completed in March, laid out Chevron’s development plans once production begins.

It will build as many as 10 platforms in the 4,709-square- kilometre field over a period of nine years.

Oil firms from China and Japan submitted exploratory EIAs late last year – the first to be obtained by the public.

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Weinland at [email protected]

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