The Cambodian government has created the Tonle Sap Basin Authority to conduct a study on possible oil reserves in the great lake area for interested private investors, local media said on Friday.
The authority was established to manage the Tonle Sap Basin and coordinate future oil and gas projects with the international partners, said Tao Seng Hour, deputy president of the Agricultural and Rural Development Council and president of the new authority.
"The authority will do studies for oil exploration" in the 16,000 square kilometers stretch surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake, he was quoted by English-Khmer bi-lingual newspaper the Cambodian Daily as saying.
"We will make sure that there is no pollution," he added.
In March this year, Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his opposition to the Tonle Sap Basin being designated a World Heritage Site, saying that fishing and extraction of oil and mineral resources might be constrained as a result of its protected status.
In 1997, the lake and the surrounding floodplain were designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which established zones with different levels of protection and development, but also permitted natural resource extraction.