Chevron, Conoco, Bush Brother's Company May Get Caspian Exploration Rights

Stephen Bierman
Friday, August 13, 2010

Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Mubadala Development Co. and TX Oil Limited, chaired by Neil Bush, brother of former U.S. President George W. Bush, may gain rights to explore in Turkmenistan’s Caspian Sea blocks.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov told the government to make a choice on bids from those companies for blocks 9 and 20 in the Caspian, according to the government’s website. Turkmenistan allows international investors the ability to gain equity in offshore exploration while limiting onshore access to its state oil and gas companies. The bulk of Turkmenistan’s known resources, including the world’s fourth- largest reserves of natural gas according to BP Plc data, are in onshore fields in the country’s east.

“Majors are more interested in bigger gas plays onshore, but may believe that a presence offshore would help them achieve this ultimate objective,” Ed Chow, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic International Studies, said by e-mail today. ConocoPhillips and Abu Dhabi-backed Mubadala have a venture to explore a block in the Kazakh sector of the Caspian together. In April, the two companies had a plan to team up in accessing Turkmen offshore areas, a person familiar with the strategy said at the time. TX Oil was formed this year to develop opportunities in Turkmenistan.

Neil Bush visited the country in February with a letter to his father, President George H.W. Bush, to the Turkmen president, according to the website Bush again visited the Turkmen president in June, according to the website. E-mails to Chevron asking for confirmation of the bid weren’t immediately returned. TX Oil didn’t immediately return calls. ConocoPhillips didn’t respond to a request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Bierman in Moscow

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