BANGKOK, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Cambodia plans to open bids for concessions on 19 onshore oil and gas exploration blocks to promote investment in the sector, a senior official at the country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy said on Wednesday.
The Southeast Asian country is also keen to talk with international investors about acquiring stakes in six offshore blocks, Diep Sareiviseth, deputy director general at the ministry and in charge of international petroleum affairs, told reporters in Bangkok.
Hit by wars and regional conflicts, Cambodia has struggled to finalise its legal and fiscal regime for its petroleum, and the launch of production at Block A, the first significant oil discovery in Cambodia, has been delayed for years.
Block A is now under supervision of KrisEnergy Ltd after the Singapore-based upstream oil and gas firm agreed to a $65 million deal to buy out Chevron Corp’s interest in the offshore block in the Gulf of Thailand.
Sareiviseth said no certain date of bidding was decided yet on the 19 onshore blocks, which are “available for any interested companies”.
A preliminary survey showed positive results at two of the onshore blocks and drilling is expected to begin next year, he said, without providing any further details.
Cambodia is also planning to build its first oil refinery in Sihanoukville on the country’s southeast coast. In early 2013, Chinese engineering firm Sinomach China Perfect Machinery Industry Corp and Cambodian Petrochemical Company had announced they would jointly build a $2.3 billion oil refinery.
However, completion of the 5-million-tonnes-a-year (100,000-barrels-per-day) refinery is expected to be delayed from earlier projections of 2018 after a recent election and a change in the petroleum regulator, Sareiviseth said. (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Tom Hogue)