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Asean Affairs  9  February 2011

Another Thai-Cambodian dispute

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     9 February 2011

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Although the current dispute over the 11th century Hindu temple, Preah Vihear, has embroiled Thailand and Cambodia in military action, another disagreement lurks in the Gulf of Thailand over offshore gas and oil reserves.

Thailand has reached accords with Malaysia and Indonesia on joint development in southern areas of the gulf and hoped to do the same with Cambodia. However, negotiations in 2009 broke down over the Preah Vihear situation.

Thailand and Cambodia share 26,000 square kilometers in the Gulf of Thailand. The area has been given the formal title, Overlapping Claims Area. The area is estimated to contain up to 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and unknown quantities of condensate and oil. Reserves from the area could increase Thailand's domestic natural-gas reserves by 30 percent. With the gas, Thai reserves would be expected to last 30 years, adding to the current 20-year estimate.

With a precedent for joint operations in place with Malaysia it would seem that Cambodia and Thailand could quickly and easily agree to a similar arrangement. However, that has not been the case.

It seems impossible to proceed with offshore negotiations until the temple dispute is resolved, which means both countries lose.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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