Chevron to Proceed with Investment Plan in South Asia

BANGKOK (Dow Jones Newswires), May 15, 2009

U.S.-based oil giant Chevron Corp. (CVX) plans to move ahead with investments in South Asia amid an expected strong economic recovery in the overall region.

"Asia will have the quickest recovery to feed future demand growth. We have strategic locations in Asia to support growth in the long term," Joe Geagea, managing director for Chevron Asia South Ltd., said at a press conference in Bangkok.

"We're not stopping anything in the region. Asia is the engine of growth."

Chevron's assets in South Asia cover Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Production from these assets accounts for 48% of net oil and gas production in Asia. In 2008, Chevron produced 682,000 barrels of net oil equivalent per day from its operations in the Asia Pacific.

Geagea said the global economic downturn hadn't prompted Chevron to delay any of its projects in the region.

"You have to recognize the world you're in, and we're pacing ourselves. The period we were in before was really fast growth; now, clearly that is not the case."

In China, Chevron is pushing ahead with its multibillion dollar Chuandongbei gas project, which when completed will have the capacity to process 740 million cubic feet a day -- all of which will serve the domestic market.

"China is critical for us; we see a market that is hungry for energy," Geagea told reporters at a briefing.

The company recently completed a 3D seismic study of the area and is studying the results. It expects to drill two wells within the next two years.

Geagea said Chevron's Chaba field in the Gulf of Thailand, which has already started production, is also "performing better than expected."

Last year, Chevron successfully drilled 13 exploration wells in Thailand, and it is now working to develop their resources. Chevron is the largest oil and gas producer in Thailand.

Chevron remains interested in expanding its exploration in the Gulf of Thailand. However, a border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia has put offshore oil and gas exploration in the potentially resources-rich area on hold for more than 30 years.

"Clearly there's an opportunity for both countries to go in and see what's there and use those resources for their mutual benefit," he said.

Chevron is also working to extend its lease on Block A in Cambodia and develop discoveries in Vietnam.

"The oil and gas discoveries in Cambodia and Vietnam will be developed once the right frameworks are agreed upon," he said.

Geagea also defended the company's presence in Myanmar, which has been condemned by some governments as showing support for the military junta.

He said Chevron -- one of the biggest Western companies in Myanmar -- helps provide energy security for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations through its gas production there. It produces around 705 million cubic feet a day, most of which is exported to Thailand.

"We don't take a political view. As long as we live (up) to our values system and the way we like to conduct business, we have nothing to be ashamed of," he said.  

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