State signs MOU with Total, partners

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the State and Total E&P PNG and its joint venture partners, ExxonMobil and Oil Search Limited.

This is to negotiate a gas agreement for the Papua LNG Project.

The signing took place this morning in Port Moresby before the opening of the APEC CEO Summit.

Present at the signing was Prime Minster Peter O’Neill, ExxonMobil PNG Managing Director, Andrew Barry, Oil Search Limited MD, Peter Botten and Total Chairman and CEO, Patrick Pouyanné.

The MOU signed today is another step closer to the realisation of the Papua LNG Project in the Gulf Province.

Total Chairman and CEO, Pouyanné, said the MOU is seen as a promising milestone and another step in all the parties’ commitment to the project.

“This is a very important document we have signed. What we have demonstrated is that we listened to you and you have listened to us,” said Pouyanné.

The scope of the MOU includes priority terms and conditions to be agreed in the proposed gas agreement as well as timeline for negotiation.

The proposed gas agreement is expected to be finalised by the first quarter of 2019.

For PNG the benefit sharing and domestic market obligations are key components which the PNG Government has been pushing for.

“We are pleased that the Government agencies and our senior officials have gone through a laborious time in trying to put this understanding together, and I believe we have concluded a deal that is a win-win for all countries,” said Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Total is the operator of the Elk and Antelope onshore fields and is the largest shareholder in Petroleum Retention License (PRL) 15, with a 31.15 percent interest.

Joint venture partners ExxonMobil own 28.3 percent and Oil Search 17.7 percent while the State’s back-in right of 22.5 percent.

The gas agreement for the Papua LNG Project is expected to be signed in March 2019.

Cedric Patjole