* Chevron says has agreed deal with Chinese-owned Himalaya
* Deal value not disclosed but estimated at $2 billion
* Bangladesh has right of first refusal
(Adds detail, Bangladesh minister and Chinese company quotes)
By Krishna N. Das and Serajul Quadir
April 24 Chevron Corp is selling its
three Bangladesh gas fields, worth an estimated $2 billion, to a
Chinese consortium as the U.S. oil and gas group looks to shed
non-core assets this year.
The deal, if completed, would mark China's first major
energy investment in the South Asian country, where Beijing is
pumping in billions of dollars in a race with New Delhi and
Tokyo for influence.
The gas fields, which account for more than half of the
total gas output in Bangladesh, are being sold to Himalaya
Energy, Chevron said. Himalaya is owned by a consortium
comprising state-owned China ZhenHua Oil and investment firm
CNIC, set up in Hong Kong in 2012, is a government
investment platform that focuses on supporting Chinese
companies' overseas investment.
Reuters reported in February that ZhenHua Oil had signed a
preliminary deal with Chevron to buy the Bangladesh natural gas
"The agreement is for the sale of Chevron's Bangladesh
companies, which hold our interests in Bangladesh," a company
spokesman told Reuters by email on Monday. "The value of the
transaction is not being disclosed and we are not at liberty to
share the details of the agreement."
A ZhenHua spokesperson confirmed the agreement, adding that
the closing of the deal would depend on approval from China’s
Ministry of Commerce.
Chevron sells its entire output from the Bangladesh fields
-- 16 million tonnes a year of oil equivalent -- to state oil
company Petrobangla under a production-sharing contract.
The Bangladesh government has the right of first refusal in
any asset sale.
Bangladesh's junior minister for power and energy, Nasrul
Hamid, said that energy consultant Wood Mackenzie is still
evaluating whether it would be profitable for the country to
make a bid.
"We can't take any decision hastily until we get the
consultancy report," Hamid told Reuters. "We believe that
Chevron would honour our request."
The Chevron spokesman said that the Bangladesh government is
"critical to the ongoing success of the business, including the
transition to the new owner", and that it would maintain
continuous communication with Dhaka as the process progresses.
The gas fields -- Bibiyana, Jalalabad and Moulavi Bazar --
had average net daily output of 720 million cubic feet of gas
and 3,000 barrels of condensate, or liquid hydrocarbon produced
Chevron said in October 2015 that it planned to sell assets
worth about $10 billion by 2017, including the Bangladesh gas
fields and geothermal projects in Indonesia and the Philippines,
amid a prolonged slump in energy prices.
(Additional reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Christian
Schmollinger and David Goodman)