By Ruma Paul, DHAKA

Jan 30 Bangladesh is hiring an international firm to assess reserves at Chevron Corp’s natural gas fields in the country before placing a formal bid to buy the assets, its energy minister told Reuters on Monday.

Energy-starved Dhaka meets half of its gas needs through the three Chevron-operated fields at Bibiyana, Jalalabad and Moulavi Bazar in the northeast of Bangladesh, highlighting their importance for the poor country.

Bangladesh will make Chevron an offer once the reserves and other details have been assessed, Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources, said.

Chevron, the second-largest United States-based oil producer, said in 2015 it planned to sell about $10 billion of assets by 2017 amid a prolonged slump in energy prices.

Last year, Chevron said it was in discussions about the potential sale of the three fields with an estimated value of $2 billion.

Bangladesh Gas Fields Co Ltd will next month select the company that will assess the reserves, Hamid said, adding that it might need the help of an international oil firm to further develop the fields.

Chevron sells its entire output from these fields to state oil company Petrobangla under a production-sharing contract. Under the terms of the contract, the Bangladesh government has the right of first refusal in any asset sale.