BP Wants to Sell Stake in Gulf of Thailand

BP hopes to sell a 25 percent stake in block A-18 in the Gulf of Thailand by the end of 2002. After 12 months of review, we decided it's not our core interest and we may look for informed parties to buy the stake," Peter Wentworth, chief executive officer of BP Malaysia.

Wentworth said the outcome of the sale was still "uncertain", but said BP had informed its partners of its decision. Under the terms of the partnership, the other stakeholders have first rights of refusal on the share. Other partners in the block are Amerada Hess with 25 percent and Trans-Thai Malaysia (TTM), a joint venture between Malaysia's state oil company Petronas and Thailand's PTT Plc, with 50 percent.

BP acquired the block when it bought Arco in 1999 and holds 25 percent in the A-18 block, one of three blocks in the Malaysia-Thai Joint Development Area (JDA).

Estimated reserves in the block are about 10.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Public opposition to a gas pipeline that would come onshore in Thailand and extend into Malaysia has been a major hurdle to gas production in the block. Gas output, expected to run at about 390 million cubic feet per day, was originally scheduled to begin in mid-2002 but has been postponed to the second half of 2003 because of the opposition.