Renewed gas field talks eyed

Renewed gas field talks eyed

50/50 deal mulled with Cambodia

Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong is at the 37th Asean Energy Business Forum in Bangkok on Aug 22. (File photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong is at the 37th Asean Energy Business Forum in Bangkok on Aug 22. (File photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to consider reopening talks on the development of the energy-rich, overlapping claims area (OCA) in the Gulf of Thailand claimed by both countries.

The resolution was revealed by Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, following a meeting with the Cambodian Minister of Mines and Energy on the sidelines of the 37th Asean Ministers on Energy Meeting (Amem) in Bangkok.

The meeting started on Monday and is scheduled to end on Friday.

In the discussion, representatives from both countries agreed that the OCA should be developed in a way that benefits both Thailand and Cambodia, and that the talks should be held "as quickly as possible".

"We are looking at the best way to resume discussion on the matter after several decades of delay," said Mr Sontirat.

"While a definite time frame has not been agreed on, Cambodia will be informed once we manage to clear the hurdles on our side. Hopefully the discussion can resume then."

Mr Sontirat also said that both countries have agreed in principle that the OCA should be developed for mutual interests.

"As fast-growing economies, both Thailand and Cambodia need more gas sources to meet the increasing domestic demand for power."

The minister also said that he hopes Thailand and Cambodia can strike a deal similar to the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area (JDA), which allows each country to claim 50% of the area's total gas output.

Mr Sontirat also said that Thailand has asked Cambodia to come up with measures to attract Thai private energy firms, as well as Thailand's state-owned firms, to invest in Cambodia's energy sector.

The minister also said that Thailand has offered to sell some of its electricity to Cambodia, which still cannot produce enough electricity to meet its domestic demand.

"The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand will try to ink a deal with Cambodia in the near future," Mr Sontirat said.

At the event, Mr Sontirat also said that Asean will push for a multilateral electricity trading scheme among its members and increase the regional bloc's renewable energy target to 23% by 2025.

He said that Asean is ready to deal with new challenges in the energy sector and move towards the era of sustainable energy.

Mr Sontirat added that the Asean Centre for Energy and the National Science and Technology Development Agency will sign an agreement to work together for the research and development of bio-mass energy and carbon recycling technology.

He said that the deal includes an agreement for more power sharing between Thailand, Laos and Malaysia.

At the meeting, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand agreed on a second power purchase agreement under the Laos, Thailand and Malaysia Power Integration Project (LTM-PIP).

The agreement aims to raise electricity sent from Laos via Thailand's power grid to Malaysia by up to 300 megawatts (mW) in 2021, an increase from the first batch of 100mW.

Regarding bilateral talks between Thailand and Myanmar on the sidelines of Amem, Mr Sontirat said that the two countries have agreed to set up a joint working panel to study the technical aspects, possible quantities and prices for power purchases via a transmission line which cuts through Mae Sot district in Tak province from Myawaddy in Myanmar.

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