Of all the Asian countries, Cambodia is not one usually on the tips of people’s tongues. All that could change though, if the numerous oil and natural gas deposits are found and extracted. Oil and natural gas are not newly discovered resources. Starting in the 1950’s and 1960’s Chinese and Russian geologists discovered oil seeps throughout the country. Oil extraction was postponed for most of the 1970’s due to the Khmer Rouge’s communist revolution that killed one in four Cambodians.
Companies from all over the world, Chevron, JOGMEC, and others have production sites both inland and off shore. Chevron has already drilled 18 wells and invested over $160 million. There is even a possibility of a joint offshore production between Cambodia and Thailand due to oil deposits on the border. In addition to oil, there are believed to be enough natural gas deposits located offshore to encourage drilling by France’s Electricite de France.
While these oil and natural gas reserves can help create jobs and create much-needed revenue for Cambodia, it bears mentioning the dangers that come with extracting such substances. Long hours on rigs, volatile materials, and heavy equipment make for dangerous working conditions. According the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, there are already safety measures in place should an emergency occur.
Hopefully, Cambodia will be able to develop its oil and natural gas sector in a manner that both benefits its people and keeps the surrounding environments. There has been no shortage of examples of the horrific damage that oil spills can cause a country it’s wildlife.