via ThaiPublica.com, 08 Mar 2019: An article in Thai by my friend Phachaporn Phanomvan na Ayutthaya about the economics of drilling and the potential for the heritage industry in Si Thep. She proposes a minimum 5km buffer zone around Si Thep to protect the ancient ruins from the impact of oil drilling. At the end of the article is the Environmental Impact Assessment from the oil company proposing to drill next to Khao Klang Nok. It’s entirely in Thai, but there isn’t much in the assessment that addresses heritage protection.
via MGR Online, 08 Mar 2019: The Thai cabinet at a meeting on Friday has approved the nomination of Si Thep as a Unesco World Heritage site, effectively starting the process. This would mean that Si Thep would eventually be added into the Unesco World Heritage tentative list. Inclusion into the tentative list typically happens at least a year before the country formally makes the nomination submission. Original article is in Thai.
via Bangkok Post, 06 Mar 2019: I think the editorial is overly critical of the Fine Arts Department in this case, and also is inaccurate in saying the site is under world heritage nomination as if the process is well underway. The site is definitely being considered for nomination by the government, but no submission to Unesco has been made.
The eager petroleum exploration company is Eco Orient Resources (Thailand) — a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Eco Group. Eco Orient Resources applied for and received permits to search for petroleum in Si Thep district of Phetchabun in 2004. The firm now seeks to begin operations. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is due in April, and Eco Orient Resources is promising many measures that it says will mitigate noise and the ugliness of drilling rigs.
The site where this drilling is supposed to begin later this year is the northern part of the historical part. Khao Klang Nok is a colossal Buddhist monument. Archaeologists generally describe it as a temple, but by any standards it is huge. It dates from the Dvaravati period, or the 6th to the 11th century. The stupa of the temple is widely known and a destination for tourists, mostly Thais.
via New Mandala, 28 Feb 2019: Following up on the previous news about proposed oil drilling near the Si Thep archaeological site in Thailand’s Petchabun province. The news is starting to gain some traction in Thai media, but I ask that you to help raise awareness about this ongoing development. Any kind drilling for oil will be destructive to an area that is definitely full of archaeological remains. #savesithep
Si Thep Historical Park was on track to become one of Thailand’s candidates for UNESCO heritage status. However, news broke on 25 February 2019 that shocked and angered the local community in Si Thep, as well as the academic community and those working within the heritage industry. ECO Orient Resources (Thailand) Ltd and ECO Orient Energy (Thailand) Ltd had organised a public hearing about plans to construct a drilling rig just 100 metres away from one of the historical park’s largest monuments, Khao Khlang Nok stupa. Khao Khlang Nok is Thailand’s largest stupa, a 64 by 64-metre stupa that stands 20 metres tall and dating back to at least the ninth century CE.
Si Thep Historical Park and its surrounding site deserves proper conservation and should be preserved for the future rather than traded for oil profits, which will benefit neither locals nor sustainable development in Phetchabun. Si Thep is potentially the largest ancient urban site in Thailand, its lifespan stretching back to the first to twelfth centuries CE. Si Thep Historical Park alone covers an area of 622.2 hectares. My study using old aerial photographs of the site revealed a complex system of hydraulic features and a third moat system that extends out beyond the area in Khao Khlang Nok, making the ‘city’ area approximately 1,544 hectares. A rough population estimate, base on water tanks, wells, site counts within the city, and material dispersal places the city’s population estimates at around 80,000 at conservative levels and 120,000 at a higher bound. Si Thep’s size and scale is then comparable with some of the more famous UNESCO Heritage Cities in Southeast Asia like Beikthano and Bagan in Myanmar.
via Petchabun Cable, 25 Feb 2019: The article is in Thai, but pretty alarming. An oil company is holding public consultations to conduct oil drilling 100m (!!) away from the main stupa of Si Thep Historical Park. Any kind of drilling in that area is likely to hit archaeological remains, and more importantly that’s probably going to negatively affect any hopes of listing Si Thep as a World Heritage site. Public consultations are currently being held in the area until 27 Feb.