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Shell Oil Repairs Depot

Shell Oil Repairs Depot

KOMPONG SOM-Shell Cambodia officially kicked off a U.S. $5 million oil depot rehabilitation

project in this port city on May 1. Located on the site of Cambodia's now-dilapidated

and unusable oil refinery, oil storage tanks with a capacity of 15,000 tons, which

have not been used for more than two decades, will be restored to working order.

The project is expected to be completed in five months.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Roger Ottenheym, Shell Cambodia's general manager

said, "This is the first important step of many more to follow."

Ottenheym noted that Shell was one of the first major corporations to establish a

presence in Cambodia, setting up operations here in the 1920s, and also one of the

first to return to the country after the last two decades of civil war. The current

venture is 60 percent owned by Royal Dutch Shell with the remaining 40 percent held

by Shell U.K.

"Many people ask me 'Why start a project in a political situation that is still

very difficult?'," said Ottenheym. "I think it is part of the responsibility

of bigger corporations to start early even when the situation is uncertain."

"We can only hope that other corporations will follow our example and help develop

Cambodia," he added.

Half of shell's U.S. $5 million investment will be used for firefighting and fire

prevention equipment at the depot site, including construction of a safety wall around

the tanks with monitoring equipment that meets international standards.

The rehabilitation work is being undertaken by Chiyoda Singapore. An engineering

crew of 50 has arrived from the island state and is being supplemented by 50 Cambodians

hired locally.

The refinery/storage complex is tucked away at the sleepy top of a bay whose bottom

serves as the major port of Sihanoukville, which currently presents a relatively

bright bustling face with containers stacked all over the place.

In contrast, the refinery is a sad, rusting reminder of the devastation wrought on

the country in the last twenty years.

The original refinery, Cambodia's first, was constructed next to snowy white beaches

in 1968. It worked for a while but was shut down after a Khmer Rouge attack in l972.

When Pol Pot took over the Chinese came in and started to build another one right

next to the first which was already beginning to rust back then.

Construction didn't get far along before the Chinese had to flee, leaving another

few hundred tons of steel to begin the oxidation process.

Ten rainy seasons later, Shell came to Phnom Penh in l989. The initial trip led to

negotiations with the SOC's Compagnie Kampuchea des Carburants and a signing of the

depot rehabilitation contract in Jan. 93.

The Shell project has had to dig up and push aside what look like ten- ton, rust-colored

penicillin capsules left by the Chinese, seven of which are now waiting patiently

to be sold for scrap.

The depot was constructed with an original storage capacity of 100,000 tons, although

many of the larger tanks are beyond repair according to Ottenheym. When the Shell

project is completed the company will begin importing fuel for trucks and cars which

they will market for use throughout the country.

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