US oil company Chevron has entered into an agreement with Chinese Himalaya Energy Co Ltd to sell its three onshore gas fields and associated assets in Bangladesh keeping the government in dark.
A release issued by Chevron Bangladesh on Monday also said, ‘Closing of the transaction is subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions.’
Chevron now operates the gas fields, Bibiyana in block 12, Jalalabad in block 13 and Moulvibazar in block 14, under three production sharing contracts with Petrobangla, the state-run Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources Corporation.
Petrobangla officials alleged that Chevron was trying to sell its stakes in Bangladesh bypassing Petrobangla.
As per contracts with Chevron, Petrobangla has the right of first refusal if the company wants to sell its assets in Bangladesh, they said.
Chevron also arranged a seven-day visit of eight officials of Chinese company China ZhenHua Oil to Bangladesh to help them evaluate the assets, the officials said, adding that Chevron did not informed Petrobangla about the visit which was ‘unethical.’
Himalaya Energy is a joint venture of Chinese state-run ZhenHua Oil and Hong Kong-based investment company CNIC Corp Ltd, according to a Reuters report.
Petrobangla chairman Abul Mansur Md Faizullah told New Age on Monday that Petrobangla was not aware of the Chevron move to sell its stakes in Bangladesh to any third party.
‘We are now evaluating the resources in the three gas fields to make a decision whether Petrobangla would buy Chevron’s stakes,’ he said.
Asked what would be Petrobangla’s response to the development Chevron made, he said that it was a policy decision to be made by the government.
Energy expert Badrul Imam, also Dhaka University geology professor, said that he was surprised as Chevron made significant progress in selling its stakes bypassing Petrobangla.
He demanded government’s proper and timely response to the situation.
In November 2016, Petrobangla took a move to assess the remaining resources in the three gas fields some 11 months after
Chevron announced that it would raise funds selling its stakes in Asia. Chevron plans to raise the funds by 2017, said officials.
They said that Petrobangla had no alternative but to wait until Chevron officially informed it that the US company wanted to sell its stakes in Bangladesh.
According to Petrobangla report on gas supplies in April 22-23, Chevron alone supplies 1,427 million cubic feet of natural gas a day, some 52 per cent of the national supply of 2,754 mmcfd.
Chevron also supplies over 9,000 barrel of gas-condensate, about 84 per cent of the country’s total supplies, the report said.
A number of petroleum products, including petrol and diesel, can be produced from condensate.
With a combined reserve of about 6 trillion cubic feet of gas in the three fields, Chevron has so far extracted about 4 tcf until March, according to official data provided by Chevron to Petrobangla.
Chevron’s claim of 4.5 tcf gas reserve in Bibiyana field, however, drew criticism six years ago.
Local experts feared that Chevron showed inflated reserve to increase gas extraction to maximise its profit in a short time.
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