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Japanese oil firm plans Cambodian operations

Japanese oil firm plans Cambodian operations

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Sambor Preikuk temple, dating from the seventh century, lies within the Block 17 onshore oil field, in Kampong Thom province.

JAPAN Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation has started preliminary surveying as the sole operator in Cambodia’s Block 17 onshore oil field, a 6,500 square-kilometre area of hilly forest in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear and Siem Reap provinces, according to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project.

Insiders said the JOGMEC assessment is the first publicly available data for onshore oil projects in the Kingdom, although officials at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy and Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA) could not be reached yesterday for confirmation.

The company began geological surveying – what it called “data acquisition” – on June 3 and continued through to early September, when the EIA was issued.

The next phase of the Japanese government-funded project involves dynamiting, and is expected to start in February of next year, provided the Ministry of Environment approves JOGMEC’s assessment.
The EIA notes oil exploration could follow the successful identification of oil reserves.

JOGMEC will consign the Block 17 project to Moeco Cambodia Oil & Gas Co Ltd as sole operator, according to the EIA. Mitsui Oil Exploration Co, or MOECO, is currently exploring for oil in Cambodia’s Block A offshore oil field, according to the company’s website.

Um Serey Vuth, an EIA consultant at Sawac Consultants for Development, said yesterday his company had never seen, nor been aware of, onshore oil assessments in Cambodia.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation submitted an EIA on offshore Block to the Ministry of Environment last month. JOGMEC’s is the second to be obtained by the public in Cambodia.

Activity at Cambodia’s 19 onshore blocks is increasing, according to Michael McWalter, an oil and gas expert at Asia Development Bank.

“Some petroleum agreements have been negotiated with the CNPA for some of the onshore areas, and we are now starting to see some early exploration work, which may or may not lead to exploratory drilling,” he said yesterday via email.

The most significant risk mentioned in the EIA was to one of Cambodia’s oldest temples, Sambor Preikuk.

The pre-Angkorian temple and the Angkorian-era Preah Khan temple sit within Block 17 and are assessed to be at low to medium long-term risk.

Operations near the archaeological structures, however, would require further permission from the Cambodian government, according to the EIA.

All other assessments, including potential impact on employment, community and safety, were listed as short-term and low.

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