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U.S. oil and gas major Chevron has said that it may fire Bangladesh employees who have stopped work to protest against the planned sale of Chevron’s gas assets in Bangladesh to a Chinese company, stirring a dispute that may delay the US$2-billion deal, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing a letter from Chevron that it had seen.
Last month, Chevron said that it entered into an agreement to sell its interests in three gas fields in Bangladesh to Himalaya Energy Co. Ltd. Himalaya Energy is held by a consortium of China ZhenHua Oil and CNIC Corp Ltd, and the deal with Chevron would be China’s first large investment in Bangladesh, where China competes with Japan and India for influence.
According to the secretary general of Chevron Bangladesh Employees Union (CBEU), Shahriar Abedin, 600 employees at Chevron Bangladesh have stopped working for the transition because the deal has not been yet approved by the Bangladesh government.
Under Chevron’s production sharing contract, the government has first right of refusal on the assets.
In a letter dated May 23, Chevron said, as seen by Reuters:
“A refusal by any employee to comply with such requests by their supervisor will be subject to disciplinary action, including up to a termination of employment.”
Bangladesh’s state company Petrobangla has to approve the sale, according to Mahbub Sarwar, a director at Petrobangla. The decision whether to approve the sale would depend on a report by Wood Mackenzie, which has been asked to evaluate the assets, the manager told Reuters.
Chevron’s Bangladesh employees want guarantees that they would stay at their jobs for at least three years after the transition to the new company, while Chevron Bangladesh told Reuters in an email that it had offered guaranteed employment for two years and a goodwill bonus payment equivalent to nine months’ salary.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.