Oil exploration bid off Koh Tao Nixed
CIVIC groups are against a plan to explore oil off the coast of Koh Tao for environmental reasons.
This surfaced during a recent public hearing with various civic groups on the island. The hearing was presided over by Somnuek Much-Chika of the energy department office in Chumphon province.
The government has tapped Soco Exploration Co. Ltd. to explore for oil in the sea 65 kilometers off Koh Tao. During the hearing, civic groups opposed the exploration project saying it could cause serious damage to the marine life and coral reefs in the area.
Although the company has been given concession to explore the area, it could not start work unless it gets approval from people likely to be affected by the project.
Soco Exploration has reportedly hired a company to make an analysis on the effect of the project to Koh Tao residents and to draw up compensation measures to fishermen who will lose income once the oil exploration begins.
It was pointed out during the hearing, Somnuek said, that aside from dislocating fishermen, the oil exploration could destroy the habitat of various fish species like mackerel.
The mackerel, he said, lay their eggs during this time of the year. Having the exploration done at this time, he added, could potentially destroy the fish stock.
Diving establishments on Koh Tao are also expected to oppose the project. The beautiful underwater landscape around the island, Somnuek said, could be destroyed from the three-dimensional seismic survey method used in exploring for oil.
The planned seismic survey is set to for January and February 2009.
Soco Exploration has promised to do all it can to prevent any damage to the environment in doing the seismic survey.