ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Another Thai-Cambodian dispute
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.
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