Petroleum projects that involve ExxonMobil in central Vietnam are progressing as planned, the Vietnamese foreign ministry said on Thursday amid unconfirmed rumors that the U.S. company was pulling out of a massive offshore gas project in the Southeast Asian country.
“What we know is that the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group [PetroVietnam] has already made a statement that petroleum projects in central Vietnam, including those at sea and on land, by a consortium of PetroVietnam, PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation [PVEP], and ExxonMobil are proceeding as planned,” the foreign ministry’s spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang told reporters at a regular press briefing in Hanoi.
Hang was responding to questions on reports that the U.S. oil and gas giant ExxonMobil was withdrawing from a deal it inked with PetroVietnam in 2017 on the joint development of a massive gas project in the East Vietnam Sea.
The project, code-named Blue Whale or ‘Ca Voi Xanh’ in Vietnamese, involves the exploitation of a gas field of the same name that lies 88 kilometers off Vietnam’s central coast.
Hang’s statement reiterated an earlier one posted on the official website of PetroVietnam on the same day.
“PetroVietnam has no comment to make on unofficial information surrounding these projects,” it said.
|Le Thi Thu Hang, spokesperson of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gestures at a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam August 3, 2017. Photo: Reuters
The Blue Whale gas field, which lies entirely within Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), has an estimated 150 billion cubic meters of reserves.
The resources are large enough to provide power to a city the size of Hanoi for more than 20 years, according to ExxonMobil.
The Blue Whale project involves the development of an offshore platform, a pipeline to shore, an onshore gas treatment plant, and pipelines that supply gas for power generation to four power plants yet to be built in central Vietnam.
The total power generation capacity of these plants is about three gigawatts.
It is Vietnam’s biggest gas project for power generation, PetroVietnam said in 2017. The state firm estimated that the project would contribute nearly US$20 billion to the state budget.
PetroVietnam, PVEP, and ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Vietnam Ltd. signed two documents outlining development activities on Blue Whale in January 2017, during then-outgoing U.S Secretary of State John Kerry’s final visit to Vietnam.
The project has been scheduled for an official launch in late 2019, with production beginning in 2023.
Exxon Mobil Corporation, dealing as ExxonMobil, is an American multinational oil and gas corporation headquartered in Texas.