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Thailand urged to talk after oil strike

Thailand urged to talk after oil strike

Asenior Cambodian government official has called for

urgent talks with Thailand to settle the issue of the two country's maritime

boundaries following the discovery of local offshore oil.

"As the Kingdom

of Cambodia we are preparing all the documents to discuss overlapping areas - we

want to move as soon as possible.

We are getting technical advice from

various sources," Under-Secretary of State for Industry, Mines and Energy Nhep

Bunchin said.

The Japanese consortium Campex struck oil in Block Three

with their test well Apsara 1, about 155 km southwest of Sihanoukville in the

Gulf of Thailand.

Bunchin said news of the preliminary find had sparked a

rush of proposals from oil explorers "now watching Cambodia like a

eagle."

Both countries now had "overlapping claims" to the prospective

lease areas, he added.

Bunchin hoped oil production could get under way

by the year 2000 or even earlier and said a priority for the government would be

to build a new oil refinery in Sihanoukville.

Two or three companies have

been short listed to build a small-capacity refinery of 10,000 barrels per day

for an estimated cost of $200 million. Malaysia's Petronas company and the

Petroleum Authority of Thailand were good examples for Cambodia to study, he

said.

Oil industry analysts have however questioned the economic wisdom

of Cambodia building its own refinery, when the region already has an over

capacity of such facilities.- Reuters

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