The government has instructed Bangladesh Oil and Gas Corporation (Petrobangla) to appoint an international consultancy firm to calculate the value of assets in three gas fields, currently under the operation of Chevron Bangladesh, for buying the rights to those assets.
A letter in this regard signed by the deputy secretary of Energy and Mineral Resources Division was sent to Petrobangla on Thursday, sources told the Dhaka Tribune.
However, Chevron has not officially informed Petrobangla about the sale of rightsto the assets in the gas fields, said a Petrobangla official.
Chevron Bangladesh, a subsidiary of US-based oil giant Chevron, operates Bibiyana, Jalalabad and Moulvibazar gas fields in Bangladesh and is planning to sell its shares off, according to several reports.
Chevron is divesting its assets to counter an energy-price slump and is seeking about $2 billion from a sale of natural gas assets in Bangladesh, the reports said.
Chevron currently sells all the production from these gas fields to the state-owned Petrobangla. Its net daily production last year averaged 720 million cubic feet of natural gas and 3,000 barrels of condensate, according to its website.
Meanwhile, Petrobangla officials held a meeting on October 17 to discuss whether the company should buy the rights to assets of the gas fields from Chevron.
The Petrobangla official, requesting anonymity, said: “It would not be rational to spend crores of taka for appointment of a consultancy firm when Chevron has not yet placed a formal proposal. If Chevron does not sell the rights to Petrobangla, appointing a consultancy firm would only be a waste of money.”
He also said Petrobangla chairman and other top officials have met with officials from Standard Chartered Bank to discuss loan options.
During the meeting, the bank officials said they were ready to issue loans to Petrobangla if the company wanted to buy the rights of the gas fields from Chevron.
“However, it seems suspicious that, even though Chevron hasnot made a formal offer, officials at the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources are showing so much interest in the Chevron gas fields. This indicates there is more to this situation,” the official told the Dhaka Tribune.
Meanwhile, Prof Ijaz Hossain of the department of chemical engineering in Buet told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday that the government should carefully consider buying the rights to gas field assets.
“The government should consider whether it has the financial capacity to buy the assets,” he said, adding that it should also be considered whether Petrobangla can operate the three gas fields.
“Petrobangla should then ask Chevron to run the operation of the gas fields by taking partners. That will ensure international standard of the operation,” he said.
When contacted in this regard, Shaikh Jahidur Rahman, communications manager (external affairs) of Chevron Bangladesh, said: “As a longstanding policy, Chevron does not comment on rumours and speculations regarding commercial discussions.”