Chevron is committed to its Thailand investments despite job cuts that have spurred rumors of the US oil major's exit.
BANGKOK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Chevron is committed to its Thailand investments despite job cuts that have spurred rumours of the U.S. oil major's exit, and may keep a Myanmar gas field stake if no attractive offer is made for the asset, an executive said in a statement on Friday.
The U.S. oil major - the country's largest oil and gas producer, supplying more than one-third of its natural gas demand - operates several exploration and production blocks in the Gulf of Thailand.
Its main concessions at the Erawan gas field and nearby blocks are due to expire in 2022, with the Thai military government planning to put them up for auction next year.
"The core assets that we operate in the Gulf of Thailand are a core part of Chevron's portfolio and we have intention of it remaining a core part of our portfolio. We are not leaving Thailand," Stephen Green, President of Chevron Asia Pacific Exploration and Production said in the statement.
The government decided earlier this year to put up for auction oil and gas contracts expiring in 2022-2023 after activists had protested a proposal to extend the concessions with existing operators.
Chevron and other license holders will be able to participate in the sales, and if no other bidders surface, then Bangkok will negotiate extensions of the concessions with them.
A Chevron spokeswoman said separately that the company has not decided if it will participate in any auction, and that "they are willing to work with the government".
Chevron and its partners aim to invest more than 100 billion baht ($2.9 billion) in 2016 for projects in the Gulf of Thailand, and are on average drilling 300-400 wells each year to maintain production levels, according to the statement.
Chevron has also put its Myanmar gas block stakes worth an estimated $1.3 billion up for sale. Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production Pcl has said it is keen to make the purchase.
The offering includes Chevron's 28.3 percent stake in Yadana, one of three major gas fields in Myanmar that supply to Thailand, which uses natural gas for nearly 70 percent of its power generation.
"We are focusing our resources on our operated assets. We're happy to keep it if the market value of it is not what we think it should be," Green said in the statement.
Chevron this year laid off more than 800 staff and contractors in Thailand to cut $500 million in costs to weather the fall in global oil prices.
Chevron Thailand now employs about 1,600 staff and another 1,300 contractors, the statement said.
(Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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