US energy firm Chevron met with Prime Minister Hun Sen Tuesday after submitting a bid to the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority to explore offshore Area IV, a spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
The area, which lies in an region disputed by Phnom Penh and Bangkok, is also subject to a bid by Japan’s Mitsui Oil Exploration, which met with the prime minister earlier Tuesday.
“Many oil and gas companies have submitted applications [for Area IV],” Ieng Sophalleth, the prime minister’s spokesman, said.
It remains unclear whether Mitsui and Chevron would plan to take on Area IV together – they are already jointly developing offshore Block A and have signed agreements with Bangkok to team up on part of Area IV, or blocks B12A, B12B and B13 as they are known in Thailand.
Chevron’s regional spokesperson Gareth Johnstone said Wednesday he could not comment “for commercial and contractual reasons”.
Two Japanese companies – Inpec and Marubeni Oil and Gas – submitted energy bids last month that are also thought to be for Area IV, given that it is the only zone where rights have yet to be awarded.
Jean-Pierre Labbe, head of exploration in Cambodia for Total, which is finalising an agreement for nearby Area III, said Wednesday that awarding the disputed territories could work in Cambodia’s favour in the dispute with Thailand given that a Thai official recently told the Bangkok Post that Phnom Penh’s failure to seal agreements suggested it did not care about the overlapping area. “Awarding the areas will stop these comments,” he said.