UPDATE 1-Chevron delays Nigeria plant phase, eyes China shale

Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:42pm EST

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By Braden Reddall

Feb 23 (Reuters) - Chevron Corp has pushed back the expansion of a natural gas processing plant in Nigeria, originally slated for this year, by another three years, according to the U.S. oil company's annual report.

Phase 3B of the Escravos Gas Plant, designed to gather 120 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from eight offshore fields and then compress and transport it to onshore facilities, had already been delayed by a year.

Phase 3A will feed an $8.4 billion gas-to-liquids plant nearby when that starts up next year, having itself been delayed for three years and seen its estimated cost more than double.

Construction continued on Phase B last year, Chevron said, and the project is now expected to be completed in 2016. A California-based spokesman confirmed the new date, but was not able to comment further on Thursday.

In China, Chevron's Chuandongbei natural gas project will now start up next year instead of this year, but the company also disclosed that it signed a joint study agreement to explore for shale gas in the Qiannan Basin last April, and started seismic operations to evaluate it in July.

Chevron is already exploring shale resources in Argentina, where it expects to drill two exploratory wells this year in the Vaca Muerta formation, as well as in Poland and Romania.

In Romania, where Chevron has a license to explore 1.6 million acres (647,000 hectares), a multi-well program is set to begin in late 2012, and negotiations have been held on license agreements for three blocks comprising about 670,000 more acres.

Apart from Nigeria, Chevron has a busy 2012 planned for Africa, which accounts for more than one-sixth of its output.

Off Angola's coast, it expects a final investment decision (FID) next quarter on Mafumeira Sul -- which should produce up to 110,000 barrels per day of crude -- while later this year it will reach FID on its N'Dola field and drill two exploratory wells in the Lifua field after a successful appraisal well there last July.

In offshore Republic of Congo, early engineering work is going on in the Moho Nord project in the Moho-Bilondo Development Area, and that should reach FID next year, Chevron said in the annual report.

Back in Asia, off the southwest coast of Vietnam, FID should be reached this year on the Block B Gas Development, which is slated to reach maximum total daily production of 490 million cubic feet of natural gas and 4,000 barrels of condensate.

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