Chevron quits Lithuania shale gas exploration tender


* Chevron blames recent legislative changes

* Says to stay in Lithuania, focus on existing field

By Andrius Sytas

VILNIUS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - U.S. energy major Chevron has pulled out after winning a tender to explore for shale gasin Lithuania, blaming changes to laws which have made it lessattractive.

Chevron was the only bidder to explore for unconventionalhydrocarbons in the 1,800 square km Silute-Taurage prospect. Thegovernment picked it as a winner a month ago.

Lithuania called the shale gas exploration tender hoping tobecome less reliant on gas from its former Soviet master,Russia.

The U.S. company said in a statement it blamed regulatoryand legislative changes that came in after it placed the bid forexploration rights.

"Significant changes to the fiscal, legislative andregulatory climate in Lithuania have substantially impacted theoperational and commercial basis of the investment decisionsince the company submitted its bid in January 2013," it said.

Lithuania's Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said in astatement he regretted Chevron's decision, but admitted therewas a lack of regulatory clarity.

"The parliament still debates various amendments, whichcould affect the use of hydrocarbons in our country. That means,that first of all we need to have a legal framework in place,"he said in a statement.

The proposals debated by the parliament include taxingexploration of shale gas and shale oil at 40 percent, up fromthe current 16 percent on conventional hydrocarbons.

"The government will discuss whether to call a new tenderfor exploration of shale gas and oil," a government spokeswomansaid.

Chevron said it will stay in Lithuania, focusing onexploration of conventional hydrocarbons at its existingRietavas block.

The company also said it remained "committed to exploringand evaluating investment opportunities in Central and EasternEurope."

Chevron, which has four concessions for shale gasexploration in neighboring Poland, said earlier it wanted moreconsultation with the Polish government on proposed draftamendments before they are adopted.

Exxon Mobil, Talisman and Marathon have pulled out of Polish shale gas, citing difficult geologyand short-comings in the regulatory environment.

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