Gas bidding terms near completion

A Chevron platform in the Gulf of Thailand. The government is close to completing terms of reference for the new bidding process for the Erawan and Bongkot gas blocks.

The bidding process for the new concessions for the Erawan and Bongkot gas blocks in the Gulf of Thailand, which are due to expire in 2022 and 2023, respectively, is expected to progress by June, according to Energy Minister Anantaporn Kanjanarat.

The Energy Ministry is due to finalise the terms of reference (ToR) for the bidding, which will be submitted for cabinet approval in June.

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) approved the controversial petroleum bill yesterday but removed the heavily-criticised provision to set up a national oil corporation, paving the way for the government to continue with plans to draft out related regulations, including the ToR.

“The ToR will be ready for cabinet approval by June and bidding for the new concessions of the two gas blocks are due in to be held within December,” said Mr Anantaporn.

The concession for the Erawan block (B10-B13), operated by Chevron Offshore Exploration and Production, is scheduled to expire in 2022. The concession for the Bongkot block (B15-B17), operated by PTT Exploration and Production Plc (PTTEP), is set to expire in 2023.

The Erawan block now produces an average of 1,240 million standard cubic feet per day (MMSCFD) of gas, while the Bongkot block produces 840MMSCFD.

Concessions for the two gas blocks expired after 20 years of operations, but were renewed for an additional 10 years.

In line with the Petroleum Act of 1969, however, the concessions cannot be renewed for a second time, compelling the government to open bidding for the blocks.

When the auction kicks off in June, the petroleum committee, which is tasked with overseeing the process, is expected to spend a significant amount of time reviewing each applicants’ proposal.

Mr Anantaporn said if the ToR is approved by the cabinet in June, the Energy Ministry will announce the detail of the ToR by July and bids will be due within December.

He said the timeline of the bidding process was delayed slightly from earlier this year to the second half of the year. However, the bidding is still due within this year, as planned earlier.

Under the newly-approved petroleum bill the bidding process will include production sharing contracts alongside the concession system.

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