Cambodia seeks to resume talks with Thailand about disputed oil and gas zone

August 31st, 2011 - 2:20 am ICT by BNO News  

PHNOM PENH (BNO NEWS) — Cambodia is looking to resume talks with neighboring Thailand to resolve overlapping maritime claims in the Gulf of Thailand, the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Cambodian government body said it has “a firm commitment to finding an equitable and transparent resolution” to the overlapping claims area which consists of a 27,000 square kilometers (10,425 square miles) stretch of seabed which is considered rich in oil and gas.

“The [government] would welcome the resumption of open and official negotiation on this issue and will pursue such a course as soon as practicable,” the statement added.

The CNPA statement also noted that the newly elected Thai government, led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, has not held any meetings or raised any proposal with Cambodian authorities to resolve the overlapping claims area.

It is the second time in just over a month that Cambodia is attempting to resume negotiations with Thailand about the disputed area.

In June 2001, Cambodia and Thailand signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing on the joint management and development of resources in the disputed zone. Subsequently, both countries put considerable efforts in implementing the agreement of a joint development area (JDA).

According to the CNPA, the discussions held from 2001 to 2007 had been ‘fruitful’, giving rise to two alternate proposals for the JDA: Cambodia’s break-through proposal and Thailand’s three-zone proposal.

However, the official talks on the issue froze during the administration of former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who took power in 2008 and had rocky relations with Cambodia. In 2009, Cambodia and Thailand withdrew their ambassadors in what was the peak of the deterioration of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Cambodia expects to resume the negotiation talks with the newly formed government of Thailand as it hopes to obtain oil and gas revenues which could transform the economic situation in the impoverished nation.

A number of major oil companies have already signed exploration deals with Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand, including the U.S. firm Chevron Corporation and French multinational oil company Total S.A.

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