Roundup: Cambodia starts extracting first drop of oil after years in waiting

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PHNOM PENH, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said on Tuesday that the kingdom has started pumping its first drop of crude oil from one of its offshore oilfields.

Singapore-based oil and gas firm KrisEnergy completed the construction of the first well in the Apsara oilfield located in Block A that lies over the Khmer Basin in the Gulf of Cambodia on Dec. 23, 2020, he said.

"Cambodia's first drop of oil was extracted from the first oil well named A-01D of Platform A in the Block A in the gulf of Cambodia yesterday (Dec. 28)," Hun Sen said in a televised speech on the National Television of Cambodia (TVK).

"COVID-19 has bothered us, but it cannot destroy our efforts to produce that oil," he said. "In the upcoming Universal New Year 2021, although we are not as happy as in previous years due to COVID-19, we have received a huge gift for our nation, it is the first drop of oil produced in our territory."

The prime minister said the commencement of the oil extraction is "a blessing not a curse" for Cambodia, saying that it will significantly contribute to developing the economy and increasing national revenue.

"This is a key start for Cambodia towards building an oil industry," Hun Sen said.

KrisEnergy holds a 95-percent stake in the block, and the Cambodian government owns the remaining 5 percent.

Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said the first drop of oil truly showed the government's tireless effort to develop an oil industry despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today, Cambodia has become one of the few oil producing countries in the world, and it is a pride for the country," he said in a statement.

KrisEnergy issued a statement on Tuesday, confirming that the first oil field in the Block A began production on Monday.

The statement said production is expected to reach a peak rate of approximately 7,500 barrels per day once the drilling program is completed in mid-February 2021.

"The Apsara field began flowing from a single development well and the flow rate will take at least 24 hours to stabilize," it said. "Production will increase to plateau as four additional wells are progressively completed and commissioned."

Kelvin Tang, CEO and president of KrisEnergy's Cambodian operations, said Apsara's first oil marked a 10-year journey from when KrisEnergy initially became a partner in Block A and a three-year period since the firm signed with the Cambodian government the petroleum agreement to launch this project.

"In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, progressing Apsara to first oil has been a tremendous achievement," he said. "Our task now is to complete drilling of the four remaining wells, stabilize production and monitor performance."

Block A, covering 3,083 square-km, is one of several oilfields discovered off Cambodian territorial waters in Preah Sihanouk province, situated in the southwest of capital Phnom Penh.

Block A is estimated to have some 30 million barrels of recoverable oil reserves, according to KrisEnergy.

Mines and Energy Ministry secretary of state Meng Saktheara has said that when the crude oil is extracted, KrisEnergy will sell it to the international market as an oil refinery in the Southeast Asian nation is still under the developmental stage. Enditem

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