PERTH Feb 25 The U.S.-based Chevron Corp
became the latest in a string of oil majors that have
decided to invest in Australian shale, announcing on Monday that
it has bought interest in two gas blocks in the Cooper Basin
from Beach Energy.
Chevron said it will initially acquire a 30 percent working
interest in block PEL 218 in South Australia, and 18 percent
working interest in block ATP 855 in Queensland. The deal gives
Chevron the option of later increasing its interest in PEL 218
to 60 percent and the interest in ATP 855 to 36 percent.
Beach Energy will receive up to $349 million over
two stages spanning several years for interest in the two gas
blocks, Beach Energy said in a statement.
"The Cooper Basin is an established petroleum producing
basin and provides the opportunity to leverage our expertise in
tight gas," Roy Krzywosinski, Chevron Australia managing
director, said, adding that it could also add to the company's
natural gas portfolio.
The Cooper Basin is considered to be one of Australia's best
prospects for commercially producing shale gas given its
proximity to the country's eastern population centres and export
infrastructure at the port of Gladstone.
Santos became the first to commercially produce
shale gas from the Cooper Basin late last year from its
Moomba-191 well, in which Beach Energy holds an interest.
Chevron is currently building two of Australia's largest
liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, Gorgon and Wheatstone, with
a combined capacity of nearly 25 million tonnes per annum, in
Chevron is already a large player in natural gas on
Australia's west coast. It is new both to unconventional gas
development in Australia as well as to the country's east coast
natural gas industry.
With the new acquisition, Chevron may also be looking to
partner with other gas developers on the east coast, including
those developing LNG plants at Queensland state's Gladstone
port, Goldman Sachs analysts said in a note to clients Monday.