US energy major Chevron is winding down its Tripoli office after deciding to let the exploration and production license it won in Libya’s 2005 bid round lapse, sources close to the company say.

The company has reduced staff numbers at the office and has reassigned country manager Dale Ryan, sources in Tripoli tell MEED. A new head of station is yet to be appointed, and any replacement is likely to work in a business development, rather than a technical role.

Meanwhile, sources in Kuwait report that Ryan has been sent to set up a new upstream development centre in the country, less than a year after Chevron decided to close its Kuwait City office (MEED 24:7:09).

Chevron declined to comment on the status of the Tripoli office or its plans to return to Kuwait City, but confirmed that it would not continue to work at the Block 177 concession at the Murzuq basin in the south of the country.

Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) signed Chevron up for the exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) in Libya’s 2005 bid round, the first held in the country since US, EU and UN embargoes were lifted in 2004.

“After an unsuccessful exploration well was completed, the company elected to relinquish its 100 per cent interest in the onshore Block 177 exploration license in the fourth quarter of 2009,” says Kurt Glaubitz, head of media relations at Chevron.

Chevron announced its decision to abandon the concession in a February filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, although this had not been reported before now. The energy major paid a $600,000 signing-up fee and guaranteed spending of at least $20m on the development as part of the 2005 agreement.

The company’s decision to reduce its presence in Libya follows similar moves by Australia’s Woodside Group and the UK’s BG Group to let the licences they won in the 2005 bid round lapse after unsuccessful drilling campaigns.

Meanwhile, sources close to the company and at international oil companies (IOCs) in Kuwait tell MEED that Chevron plans to open a new, expanded office in Kuwait headed by Ryan with a focus on upstream oil and gas deals. The company previously had a technical service agreement with state refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Company, which lapsed in 2008.

Chevron closed its Kuwait office in 2009 because its management felt that it could not make enough money under the terms on offer for a new enhanced technical services agreement (ETSA), although sources with knowledge of the deal say that the company could have earned $1.1bn from the deal over a four-year period.

The UK/Dutch Shell Group became the first IOC to sign up for an ETSA in February, sparking interest from other international energy majors that had let previous agreements lapse, including the UK’s BP and France’s Total (MEED 18:2:10).