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Oil And Gas Development Unveiled In Cambodia

Cautious Approach to Oil and Gas Development Unveiled in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 27 March 2008: Cambodian officials outlined a detailed plan for developing the country's oil and gas reserves that would ensure sustainable economic development and reduce poverty, at the opening of a three-day conference here this week.

The conference, Fuelling Poverty Reduction with Oil and Gas Revenues - Comparative Country Experiences has brought together more than 500 participants from Cambodia and around the globe to examine ways developing countries can maximize their resource wealth to reduce poverty.

"Cambodia's non-renewable resources are important assets that must be used wisely. This is an ethical imperative and makes economic sense," said Jo Scheuer, UNDP Cambodia Country Director.

The government has set its sights on long term benefits rather than short term gains, said H.E. Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia and Chairman of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority. The plan, which includes the formation of a regulatory framework and the development of human resources, was "a vital step" towards sustained economic development, he said in the inaugural speech.

Over the past few years, UNDP has been working closely with the Government of Cambodia, the Norwegian Government and other partners to explore ways Cambodia can best develop and manage its new found resource wealth. Cambodian officials have been linked up with energy experts in countries around the world which have faced similar opportunities and challenges, notably Norway, and more recently, Timor-Leste. The aim has been to share experiences and expertise on how to maximize resource wealth for the benefit of all. This conference is part of the ongoing open dialogue.

Representatives from countries that have been most successful in harnessing their resource wealth to maximize social gains urged caution.

Arne Walther, the former secretary general of the International Energy Forum, explained how Norway had become the model for prudent use of resource wealth when huge offshore resources were discovered there in the 1970s. "The political desire was to go carefully forward and not to let an oil bonanza overheat the economy or disrupt the tradition pattern of Norwegian society," he said.

Transparent rules and regulations were a vital part of the process, said the advisor to Sao Tome et Principe's Minister of Natural Resources, Genoveva Jose da Costa. She said the country had set up a National Oil Account for revenues from its natural resources. "This provides a single destination for the payments of all oil revenues, which makes it easier to monitor the transactions related to the country's oil wealth and ensures transparency," she explained.


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