Energy claim talks with Cambodia to start

Energy claim talks with Cambodia to start

Parnpree: Waiting for clarity
Parnpree: Waiting for clarity

Thailand and Cambodia will hold talks about a 26,000-square-kilometre energy-rich area in the Gulf of Thailand claimed by both countries on Feb 7.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet will visit Thailand on that date, and energy resources in the overlapping claim area (OCA) will be among the topics tabled for discussion.

"We have to wait for clarity after the talks between Mr Srettha and the Cambodian prime minister on Feb 7 first. Afterwards, ministries and relevant agencies will take action accordingly," Mr Parnpree said.

Pichai Naripthaphan, the prime minister's adviser and former energy minister, said that several rounds of talks on the issue had previously been held with guidelines already devised for further negotiations.

He added that talks will focus on possible cooperation in using energy resources in the OCA rather than raising the maritime border dispute.

The talks should be concluded as quickly as possible as it takes 2-7 years to explore and drill energy resources in the area, he said, adding that Thailand already has natural gas separation plants and gas pipelines in place.

He said the talks should be finalised before the current government's tenure ends, while Cambodia also wants to conclude the talks for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in 2001 during the Thaksin Shinawatra administration to jointly develop parts of the OCA and to demarcate a maritime border.

Under the MoU, the maritime border demarcation and joint development must be carried out as an "indivisible package", with a Thailand-Cambodian Joint Technical Committee set up to discuss them. Several rounds of talks have been held since, but no progress has been made, mainly because of the dispute over the maritime border demarcation.

Observers have noted that the talks should focus primarily on the joint development of energy resources in the OCA to decrease the country's dependence on expensive liquefied natural gas imports.

Pundits say the maritime territorial dispute between the two sides should be put on the back burner to avoid straining ties.

Mr Parnpree said earlier the government would need to appoint people to a new joint technical panel before resuming talks.

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