Recently I read a Khmer language newspaper with the headline (my translation) "The Benefits of Oil and Gas Could Become Economic War For Corrupt Officials in Cambodia". The headline really caught my attention so I went on reading the entire article.
American company Chevron was granted by our Cambodia government to do oil and gas exploration on our continental shelf--off the sea coast along Kampong Som and Kampot areas in the Gulf of Thailand. In 2004 and 2005 Chevron hit the black gold in 4 out of 5 drillings, and they plan to drill 10 more places within the next 2 years.They estimated from 121 to 700 million of barrels could be found in our Cambodia ocean.
The Cambodia people are very skeptical about the income from oil and gas will go into the country's development from current state of extreme poverty. They are worry the income generated would fall into the hands of corrupt and the powerful officials. Prime Minister Hun Sen kept touting the government won't allow the benefits from our oil and gas to become a 'curse' for the Cambodia people. He said this because he awares of corrupt officials are in fierce competitions with each other to reap whatever they can.
Cambodia leaders should put their heads together. The world is watching us very closely. World Bank has announced Cambodia natural oil and gas is the economic source for Cambodia. One United Nation observer said oil and gas could generate income our country from $6 billion to $7.5 billion(US) per year. Let's hope these oil and gas revenue will help rebuilding our country and gradually paying off all of our debts.