BANGKOK, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Thailand will send a ministerial delegation to Cambodia on Thursday to revive stalled talks on the joint development of offshore energy reserves in the Gulf of Thailand, its energy minister said on Wednesday.
Thailand and Cambodia were keen to re-start negotiations on joint exploration and development of the Overlapping Claim Area (OCA) in the Gulf, which covers 27,000 sq km (16,000 sq miles) and is thought to be rich in oil and gas deposits.
Cambodian officials say the two sides had come close to an agreement on joint exploration and development in the Gulf but that was scuttled when former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled in a military coup in 2006.
Ties have improved significantly, however, since Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, came to office in August after a landslide election win that Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry publically celebrated by opening bottles of champagne.
“The Ministry of Energy wants negotiations to be done as quickly as possible for the sake of stability through energy and for the benefits of the two countries,” Thai Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan told reporters.
Chevron Corp is operating Block A in the Gulf and Total also has exploration rights in the area and recently told Reuters it was ready to start work as soon as the dispute was settled.
Three Japanese firms - Inpex, Marubeni Oil and GaS, a subsidiary of Marubeni Corp, and Mitsui Oil Exploration Co, a unit of trading house Mitsui & Co Ltd - have also shown interest in exploring, as well as some from Europe.
Thailand and Cambodia have claimed sovereignty over the offshore area since the early 1970s and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 2001 to jointly demarcate the offshore area and 800km (500 miles) of disputed land.
However, a series of diplomatic spats since 2007 have put paid to the plans, including troop clashes in February and April this year that marked the deadliest Thai-Cambodia border fighting in two decades.
Reporting by Natnicha Chuwiruch in Bangkok and Prak Chan Thul in Phnom Penh; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by