Petroleum policy drafting forges ahead

25 Mar 2013

Phnom Penh– The Cambodian government says it is forging ahead with the drafting of a crucial policy paper designed to regulate and manage the country’s petroleum sector in the future.

The Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA), on January 11, held a one-day meeting with representatives of relevant ministries, non-governmental organizations and United Nations Development Programme to obtain comments on possible improvement to the draft National Petroleum Policy Framework.

The meeting was the culmination of a year-long analytical study that CNPA said it had conducted, looking into experiences in a number of countries – namely Australia, Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam – to use as the foundation for drafting Cambodia’s own petroleum policy.

“This policy has the objective to obtain [the most] benefits from the petroleum sector, not just in terms of revenue and tax but also in securing a source of energy supply to contribute to promoting investment” in Cambodia, the CNPA said on its website, www.cnpa.gov.kh. It added that knowledge and skill building and creation of employment opportunities in the petroleum sector are also among the goals to be covered by the policy.

Speaking at the meeting, UNDP Cambodia Country Director, Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki, said she was encouraged by the latest step taken by the CNPA. Meanwhile, she urged the government “to take a sustainable, responsible and accountable approach” in trying to develop the sector.

“This means ensuring institutionalizing the rule of law … to prioritize social, health, safety and environmental needs, all the while promoting economic development for all, especially education and training,” she said in her remarks. 

“It also means having in place transparent and open mechanisms to manage revenues and ensuring that they contribute to increased employment, better health and education and further other development needs of the present and future generations of Cambodians,” she added.

Cambodian oil endowment is expected to have potential to help the country’s socio-economic development move to the next level. Its development is still at a nascent stage, however, with the first drop of oil reportedly expected to be pumped out of the seabed in the next few years.

The government, with support from UNDP in Cambodia, is nonetheless moving ahead to lay the necessary groundwork for handling the challenges that would come along the oil windfall.

The CNPA said on its website that the petroleum policy will pay close attention to environmental and cultural assets that could be affected by the petroleum development. In this sense, it said, the policy will embody a number of key strategic goals aimed at:

  • Maximizing economic benefits arising from exploitation of petroleum resource;
  • Encouraging investment by firms that have technological capacity to ensure safety as well as safeguard the environment;
  • Setting clear regulatory framework for the sector;
  • Helping mobilize revenue for the state budget, and
  • Ensuring that petroleum revenue is used and re-invested [accountably and transparently] in the benefit of the Cambodian people.