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Chevron gets nod for Bibiyana field expansion

  • Shamim Jahangir
  • 2 September, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news

US energy giant Chevron Bangladesh has received approval for expansion of the Bibiyana gas-field with an additional 60 Square Kilometers "flank" area, aimed at producing low-cost gas from local fields to meet a severe energy crisis in the country, a top official said.

The approval came up from the Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved a summary to extend the areas of the Bibiyana field ahead of the US company's 25th anniversary in Chevron Bangladesh venture.

"The EMRD has decided to allow Chevron of the 60-square-kilometre "flank" area outside its existing contract zone at the north of the Bibiyana gas-field," Petrobangla chairman Nazmul Ahsan told the Daily Sun.

“We are expected to sign a side letter agreement (SLD) with Chevron Bangladesh to explore the flank area under Bibiyana gas field within 15-20 days,” he said on Thursday.

Petrobangla chairman said JICA had a prediction to deplete the Bibiyana gas field with overall gas output to 1900mmcfd now.

“But, the JICA survey makes it wrong and Bibiyana proves additional gas prospects with overall gas output of 2350mmcfd from local gas fields,” he pointed out. 

Among the Chevron-operated gas-fields, Bibiyana is the biggest producing gas field that outputs around 1481.3mmcfd of gas, followed by Jalalabad field with natural gas pumps out of around 182.3 mmcfd and Moulvibazar having production of around 17.3 mmcfd.

Currently, the Bibiyana's lifespan is expected to continue till 2037 whereas Jalalabad and Moulvibazar will end in 2034 and 2039 respectively.

Chevron plans fresh investment to initially drill wells no B27 and well no B28 at the existing areas and it will also drill well B29 at flank area, sources at Bibiyana Gas Field said.

The flank area will for the first time eyewitness horizontal drilling at eight kilometers depth from surface or from 8000 meters of surface soil. Existing wells will require drilling only 3500-4000 meters from surface soil.

Sources concerned said the drilling will be started in the first quarter of 2023.

Earlier, the US company had sought several times to conduct horizontal drilling but never received approval. But, the current natural gas crisis has forced the government to allow it this time, the official sources said.       

Petrobangla chairman said the production sharing contract (PSC) will be the same at the "flank" area under the existing production sharing contract (PSC).

According to the sources concerned, the US energy giant is now conducting a survey in the Surma basin of Bangladesh's largest gas prospect at Block 11, 12, 13 and 14.

Once, Chevron may get prospects at Block-11 in an onshore field, then Chevron also intends to get the field under unsolicited deal. The blocks 12, 13, 14 are now operated by the company. 

Previously, Chevron has received Jalalabad gas field under block-13 under an unsolicited deal.

Onshore Block 11 is one of the two blocks that were kept ring-fenced for development by state-owned BAPEX.

A Japanese hydrocarbon-exploration company Mitsui Oil Exploration Company Ltd (MOECO) eyes exploration of onshore block 11 under joint venture with state-run BAPEX.

MOECO had carried out a joint study along with Petrobangla, BAPEX and Bangladesh Petroleum Institute and spotted two prospective locations -- Madarganj and Jamalpur in blocks 8 and 11.

Petrobangla chairman said that Wood Mackenzie has submitted their report on offshore gas exploration in the Bay. He added, “We will invite bids for 24 offshore blocks in December.”

The top Petrobangla official also found great prospects at Bhola gas and plans to explore the river area too as great prospect prevails in greater Bhola.    

The country's overall natural gas output is hovering around 2,879 mmcfd, including 550mmcfd of re-gasified liquefied natural gas (LNG).