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Fight for Thai gas fields fraught with big economic risks

Botched rights change could choke supplies from sites meeting half of country's demand

A natural gas production facility in the Gulf of Thailand. The country decided to hold an auction for two long-time fields in the region so that it can switch to contracts less favorable for producers.

BANGKOK -- A four-way battle is brewing for two Thai natural gas fields representing roughly half of the country's consumption, but a change in producers could slow supply and damage a thriving industrial sector.

U.S. oil major Chevron has gone on a public relations blitz in local Thai newspapers as it seeks to extend its contract for the Erawan field, where it began production in 1981. Its license for the block expires in 2022. The license for the other field, Bongkot, which is operated by state-owned PTT Exploration and Production, will expire in 2023.

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