Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cambodia to expand navy to protect oil fields

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 10 (Xinhua)
The Cambodian Ministry of National Defense is planning to significantly expand the Royal Cambodian Navy's presence in the Gulf of Thailand to provide security for companies searching for and extracting oil, local media said on Friday.

The navy will triple its size and increase patrols to defend Cambodia's offshore oil fields and maritime integrity, Minister of Defense Tea Banh was quoted by English-language newspaper the Cambodian Daily as saying.

He declined to comment further on the plan, which has not been officially approved.

The details of the naval expansion will be decided next month at a Ministry of Defense seminar, the paper quoted another source as saying.

The seminar will be co-sponsored by the Germany-based Friedrich Naumann Foundation, said lawmaker Yim Sovann, chairman of the National Assembly commission on national defense.

"We need to post patrols along the coast in order to provide security to oil exploration companies. We want to protect the property of investors from terrorism," he added.

Along the southwestern coast of the kingdom, several companies from the United States, South Korea and Cambodia itself have been searching for oil in the past years. The concerned sides have confirmed rich reservation of oil and natural gas and production is expected to start in 2008.

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