Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Thailand, Cambodia reopen talks on disputed waters

By an OGJ correspondent

BANGKOK, Apr. 8 -- Thailand and Cambodia plan to resume negotiations Apr. 21 in Bangkok over long-standing differences covering ownership of gas reserves in disputed waters.

An impasse has prevented development of 26,000 sq km area in the Gulf of Thailand. The area is believed to hold substantial hydrocarbon deposits.

Negotiations are being prompted by skyrocketing oil prices and the need of both Thailand and Cambodia to find indigenous energy supplies.

In 2001, both sides agreed to adopt the Joint Development Area (JDA), a scheme embraced earlier by Thailand and Malaysia, for developing oil and gas in the disputed zone without resolving exact maritime boundaries.

The original model negotiated by Thailand and Cambodia called for a 50-50 split of resources arising from the middle portion of the JDA, with sharing ratios differing on areas flanking the plot, depending on the proximity to their territorial claims.

However, Phnom Penh authorities are pressing for a 60-40 sharing ratio, unlike the 50-50 split adopted by Thailand and Malaysia on the 7,250-sq-km triangular JDA (OGJ Online, Aug. 15, 2006).

Songpop Polachan, deputy director-general of Thailand's Department of Mineral Fuels, said Thailand will insist that the Malaysia-Thailand JDA sharing model is adopted for the Thailand-Cambodia pact.

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