University’s Knowledge of Extractive Industries in Cambodia

By: Vorn Makara and Tet Chann

“Extractive Industries”, normally youths are not aware of this term, but they are only familiar with the words “oil and gas”. The main duty of students as the vital human resource and pillar of the country is studying. However, they, as a citizen, have to participate in the government’s activities and the nation’s development. Extractive Industry (EI) is the new natural resource for Cambodia, but people, especially youths seem not pay attention to and get to know how the government will use EI revenue transparently.

Sounsau Sathya, senior assistant of Extractive Industries Climate Change Program at Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP) said that, “Youths’ knowledge regarding extractive industries is still limited because they have no chance to get EI information which is not prevailing yet.”

Studying Economics and Rural Development at the Royal University of Agriculture, Seurm Heurng said that he knows a little information concerning extractive industries, explaining that, “I am not so interested in this sector [EI] because I think that the benefits are for high ranking people.”

Extractive Industries (EI) is the new natural resource for Cambodia which is the branch encompassing all companies engaged in activities related to the exploration and production of non-renewable natural resource such as mining oil, gas, and mineral.

Joining workshop on EI information at YRDP, Try Ngoun Eng, junior student at Panassastra University, said that he got a lot of information and knowledge regarding EI.

“Before I had not known about Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), but now I can get more knowledge and experience,” he said, adding that he always raises topics related to EI to do presentation for his academic courses in order to tell youths about the impacts and benefits of EI sector.

The oil-rich countries including Azerbaijan and Timor-Leste can control the EI revenue effectively to develop their countries because they have used EI revenue transparently and accountably. It is written in Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency (CRRT) newsletter that if Cambodia’s government can do so, Cambodians will have positive change including economic growth, political stability, a substantial rise in private investment, and increases in public spending that improve health care, education, and infrastructure, all of which will alleviate poverty.

Sek Pisey, senior student majoring in Geography at Royal University of Phnom Penh, said that it is good to pump the oil or gas, but he is worried about off-the-right-track spending of that revenue.

“I am afraid that that revenue is used improperly, which cannot benefit people,” he said.

Sounsau Sathya also expressed his concern that, “If we cannot control EI revenue thoroughly, we will lose revenue from the EI resource, and the next generation cannot take the advantages from that.”

The oil-rich resource countries like Azerbaijan and Timor-Leste which have become the member of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), meaning that they have to reveal all the information related to EI sector in their country to the people, and they also create the Oil Fund for saving EI revenue for their country future. Nevertheless, Cambodia has not had this kind of activities yet, but recently the Ministry of Economy and Finance has shown the table of Finance and Economy called TOFE on its website regarding the information of state financial operation notice.

Mam Sambath, executive director of the NGO Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency (CRRT) said that the government is willing to control on EI revenue.

“The government showed the some part of mine revenue through Ministry of Finance website, but it is not detail yet,” he said.

Cambodia has divided into 26 onshore and offshore petroleum blocks in order to allow private energy companies to access the Kingdom oil and gas reserves. According to the written document of National Petroleum Authority (NPA), there are more than 20 authorized companies to explore the oil and gas and from the report of the Ministry of Industry, Mineral and Energy,  some 60 firms has got the license to extract mineral.

After searching and studying on oil location and condition for many years, the first drilling oil in Cambodia will start its first project of block A in December 2012 by French Chevron Company.

According to Mam Sambath, Cambodia’s government has currently drafted law concerning EI sector and the government will allow civic participation in sharing their opinion over EI.

Sounsau Sathya said that “We expect that they [government] will take the revenue from oil and gas resource to develop prioritized sectors.”

He added that EI is very important for all the Cambodian youths to know and join this sector because youth is an impetus for changing society towards development, so they can join hands with government to use and observe that revenue transparently.

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