Chevron Corp. has started producing natural gas at its $3.1 billion Platong II project in the Gulf of Thailand. San Ramon-based Chevron (NYSE: CVX) hopes to produce some 330 million cubic feet per day from the project, as well as about 18,000 barrels per day of natural gas liquids. In 2008, Chevron had guessed Platong II might produce up to 420 million cubic feet per day. It also said back then that it hoped to have the project up and running by the first quarter of 2011. The leases on this project are in the center of the gulf bounded by Thailand on the north and west and Cambodia and Vietnam on the east. Chevron picked up Unocal contracts in the area when it bought Unocal in 2005. Those leases from the Thai government were set to expire in 2012 but in 2008 they were extended to 2022. Platong and the other lease areas -- named Erawan, Satun, Funan, Banpot, Plamuk, Yala and Pla Daeng -- are along a rough north-south line to the west of another area where Cambodia and Thailand have disputing claims going back to 1972. Chevron operates the Platong II project through its Thailand subsidiary, which owns a 69.9 percent stake. Mitsui Oil Exploration Co. owns 27.4 percent and PTT Exploration and Production Public Co. owns 2.7 percent. As it now looks to Asia as both a major source of energy resources and also a major market for them, Chevron has been investing a great deal in the area. It spent some half a billion dollars on offshore rigs for its Gulf of Thailand projects. Melody Meyer is president of Chevron Asia Pacific Exploration and Production Co.