Chevron Corporation has pushed back the expansion of a natural gas processing plant in Nigeria, originally slated for this year, by another three years, according to its annual report, which also revealed that it will continue exploring for shale gas in China. Closer to home, the second-largest US oil company also said its chemical joint venture with ConocoPhillips would seek to take advantage of North America’s shale gas glut by doing a feasibility study on a potential ethylene cracker on the US Gulf Coast. As for Nigeria’s Escravos Gas Plant Phase 3B, which is designed to gather 120 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from eight offshore fields and then compress and transport it to onshore facilities, it had already been delayed by a year. Phase 3A will feed an $8.4 billion gas-to-liquids plant nearby when that starts up next year, having itself been delayed for three years and seen its estimated cost more than double. Construction continued on Phase 3B last year, Chevron said, and the project is now expected to be completed in 2016. A California-based spokesman confirmed the new target date, but was not able to comment further. In China, the Chuandongbei natural gas project will now start up in 2013 instead of this year, but Chevron also said it signed a joint study agreement to explore for shale gas in the Qiannan Basin last April, and started seismic operations to evaluate it in July. Chevron is already exploring shale resources in Argentina, where it expects to drill two exploratory wells this year in the Vaca Muerta formation, as well as in Poland and Romania. In Romania, where Chevron has a license to explore 1.6 million acres (647,000 hectares), a multi-well program is set to begin in late 2012, and negotiations have been held on license agreements for three blocks comprising about 670,000 more acres. Apart from Nigeria, Chevron has a busy 2012 planned for Africa, which accounts for more than one-sixth of its output. Off Angola’s coast, it expects a final investment decision (FID) next quarter on Mafumeira Sul, which should produce up to 110,000 barrels per day of crude, while later this year it will reach FID on its N’Dola field and drill two exploratory wells in the Lifua field after a successful appraisal well there last July.