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Global Wildcatter.

SINCE BECOMING PRESIDENT OF CHEVRON Latin America a year and a half ago, Bill Edman hasn't wasted any time. The 59-year-old has acquired an oil company in Argentina (Petrolera Argentina San Jorge), committed US$5.2 billion to three energy projects in Venezuela and signed a joint venture with Brazilian state-run oil giant Petrobras to explore two leases in Brazil. The Texas A&M-educated petroleum engineer, who has spent 36 years with Chevron as far afield as the former Soviet Union, Nigeria and Canada, recently talked strategy with LATIN TRADE Contributing Editor Claire Poole from his office in Caracas.

Why all the recent activity?

We had wanted to grow in Latin America over the last few years, but we just weren't able to get everything right. So when I came down here, I got the assurance from the company that they were prepared to grow, assuming there were good opportunities. We set up teams to do that.

Why did you acquire San Jorge?

We targeted Argentina because the government and the currency are relatively stable. We also like their terms and conditions. The margins are good. We identified two to three companies we were interested in, and lo and behold, San Jorge came on the market.

You've been mentioned as interested in bidding on some new exploration and production contracts with Colombia's Ecopetrol. Are you?

We've been in Colombia 75 years. There's still quite a bit of oil and gas there, and there are adjacent areas that Ecopetrol operates that we would be happy to take over and combine with our operation.

Aren't you worried about guerrillas?

My biggest concern is the safety of our employees and facilities. However, we are in an area that is not guerrilla-infested. Chevron has had a very active community development program, and we think that somehow they can influence guerrilla activity and leave Chevron alone.

How about Peru and Bolivia?

We're looking at Peru again. We had an exploration block [in Bolivia], and the well wasn't successful. We've decided not to pursue exploration in that area.

What are you doing in Chile?

We have a small lease that we picked up when we acquired San Jorge on the southern tip of the continent. It's oil and gas prospective; I don't know when we're going to drill there.

Are you looking at Ecuador?

We are. They have enough oil and gas resources that we'd like to go in and work with them for additional development of some of those large fields.

There have been environmental cries against international oil companies like Texaco in Ecuador. Does that worry you?.

It's a bad reflection on the industry. We have a policy called "Protecting People and the Environment," and if you look at our worldwide operations, we do everything we can to make sure they meet or exceed U.S. standards. So we think that our reputation speaks for itself.

Given the European and U.S. merger madness and the recent Repsol-YPF deal in Argentina, will we see more of the same in Latin America?

I don't know how attractive it is when oil is $30 a barrel.
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Title Annotation:plans of Chevron Latin America president Bill Edman
Comment:Global Wildcatter.(plans of Chevron Latin America president Bill Edman)
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:0LATI
Date:Jun 1, 2000
Words:520
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