Shell Reviews Thailand Asset Disposal Plan

Shell is reviewing its plan to dispose of its petroleum exploration and production assets in Thailand, in line with the country's plan to become a regional energy hub, the head of Thai Shell Exploration & Production Co. said Friday.

The revision of Shell's global investment strategy is expected to be finalized by the end of the year, said Luechai Wongsirasawad, managing director of Thai Shell Exploration. "Before the end of the year, we'll have a clearer picture on our business direction both in Thailand and globally," Luechai added.

Luechai said Shell has planned since 1998 to sell its petroleum exploration and production assets.

The revision, part of Shell's global regular portfolio review, also will take into account business opportunities following Thailand's plans to set up regional oil trading center and build a land bridge, Luechai said.

The land bridge will link oil terminals on either side of the isthmus connecting Thailand to the Malaysian peninsula with a 230-kilometer, 42-inch- diameter, oil pipeline and an accompanying road and railway, to serve as an alternative to shipping through the Straits of Malacca.

"We will review our investment strategy to see whether we have any opportunities to invest in the oil and gas areas apart from being an exploration and production company," Luechai said.

Luechai said Thai Shell has an investment worth one billion baht ($1=THB40.15) for 2004 to maintain its production level.

The company's assets in Thailand are the S1 onshore oil field and block B6/27 in the Gulf of Thailand. The company has invested $850 million in the S1 field and another $170 million in block B6/27.

The S1 field, the country's largest onshore crude oil production field, produces about 20,000 barrels of crude a day. It also produces 55 million cubic feet a day of natural gas and 300 metric tons of liquefied petroleum gas a day.

However, the company hasn't been operating the B6/27 block since 1997 due to technical difficulties.