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Chevron leaving Asian markets behind

The company is shedding assets, though other power players are capitalizing on regional potential.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Chevron leaving Asian markets behind
U.S. oil and gas company Chevron said it's leaving, or plans to leave, parts of the geothermal sector in Asia behind. Photo courtesy of the International Energy Agency.

April 24 (UPI) -- U.S. supermajor Chevron Corp. said Monday it was departing from gas operations in Bangladesh, after leaving the Indonesian geothermal sector behind.

For an undisclosed sum, the company said it sold off its conventional natural gas business in Bangladesh to a Chinese consortium.

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The U.S. company said the transaction was in line with plans to dispose of non-strategic assets. Figures from the sale in Bangladesh will show up in Chevron's first-quarter results.

Chevron will be among the first supermajors to report first-quarter results later this year. Fourth-quarter results revealed the company posted its first annual loss in decades as the low price of crude oil, by relative terms, forced energy companies to reconfigure their strategies. At the time, Chevron Chairman John Watson said the company was responding to market dynamics with aggressive cost-cutting measures.

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Chevron's subsidiary in Bangladesh started operations from an expansion project at the Bibiyana gas asset in the northeastern part of the country in 2014. The additional development boosted production capacity from Bangladesh by more than 300 million cubic feet per day to 1.4 billion cubic feet per day.

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The company hinted in late 2016 that it may be offering its Bangladesh unit up for sale.

Asian economies, China and India in particular, are growing at nearly twice the rate of their Western counterparts. That growth translates to higher demand for oil and natural gas.

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The announcement on Bangladesh follows the departure from geothermal resources in Indonesia and Chevron added that the conclusion of the sale of its geothermal business unit in the Philippines is expected later this year.

French energy company ENGIE started the year by making a debut in geothermal energy with a commitment to help build a power plant in the country. ENGIE said it has the drilling and other subterranean experience necessary to help build a facility that at 80 megawatts will have the capacity to power 120,000 average homes.

The plant is backed by a $440 million finance agreement coordinated in part by the Asian Development Bank and other regional lenders.

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