Total Oil joins Oil Search for PNG

A new Asia Pacific hub dawns

With less than three months of wait left before Papua New Guinea rolls out exports from its US419.12 billion (Kina 52.16 billion) LNG project, Peter O’Neill’s Government has given thumps up for a second such plant involving Australian and French interests. Australia’s Oil Search and Paris-based Total Oil sealed a deal in what is dubbed as PNG’s biggest undeveloped gas resource, to be tapped alongside New York-listed InterOil investments this year.

As the French consortium injected $3.64 billion last month in PNG’s second gas project, Oil Search director Peter Botten declared that PNG is on a threshold of a generational change, with potential to yield billions of kina unprecedented in the country’s history. Total Oil enthusiastically raised their prospects of developing the gas finds and declaring that PNG could become a hub for the Asia-Pacific region with gas production, opening markets such as China, Japan, Korea and India – considered the four economic giants of Asia.

“Our acquisition of those significant discovered resources is an opportunity to develop a new gas production and liquefaction hub in the Asia-Pacific region, where gas demand is very dynamic,” a spokesman for Total Oil told the media in Australia last month. Total Oil, which already has other investments with Oil Search in PNG, agreed with their new venture in PNG’s lucrative Elk and Antelope gas fields as “the strategic partner we were looking for.”

It follows Oil Search’s smart move in February this year when it pipped American InterOil in buying out minority stakeholders in the Elk and Antelope gas resource for a mega $0.91billion. With Oil Search’s entry in the gas project, it grabbed a 23 per cent stake and with it has earned a huge bargaining power at the company’s board level.

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