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further pipline developments

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    Source; The PNG National;

    JAPANESE investors have committed themselves to a feasibility study for a K3.2 billion (US$800 million) methanol plant in PNG.
    The money is to come from Mitsubishi Chemicals and Itochu Corporation who have agreed to form a partnership with a PNG company to develop the proposed methanol plant at the cost of US$800 million (K3.2 billion).
    An elated Petroleum and Energy Minister, Sir Moi Avei, told The National from his Tokyo hotel room on Friday: "We are more than ecstatic ... things are moving very fast."
    "We had very successful meetings yesterday (last Thursday) and I will have another round of talks to go through today, but so far it's been very successful."
    Sir Moi traveled with Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and colleague Minister for Labor and Industrial Relations, Peter O'Neill in his capacity as acting Minister for Tourism and Culture.
    Sir Moi's departmental head, Joseph Gabut, accompanied him.
    He met with Mitsubishi Chemicals and Itochu Corporation executives who gave him the undertaking.
    "They've agreed to start feasibility studies soon," said Sir Moi.
    He said there are three possible sites - Kopi and Kerema in Gulf province and Napa Napa outside Port Moresby, where an oil refinery is currently under construction.
    Sir Moi said Mitsubishi officials were in PNG in early March. They traveled to the Gulf province on March 13 where they met with Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta. They toured possible project sites for the gas stripping and processing facility.
    This was their second or third visit to PNG regarding the methanol plant proposal.
    Mr Haiveta told The National at that time that the Japanese investors were "very keen" on moving the project forward.
    In the meetings with Sir Moi, Mitsubishi and Itochu "confirmed they've got the money to start the feasibility study".
    "We are more than ecstatic as we are trying to promote new investment in the country," he said.
    "Meanwhile, another team of technical experts led by director of Petroleum division Stanley Bono is currently in Salt Lakes City in the US, talking to investors there while the Secretary and I are here in Japan.
    "We are doing our very best here."
    Apart from meeting with the industry executives, Sir Moi also met with the Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for External Trade and Industry. The discussions centered on the financing of PNG-Queensland gas pipeline project and PNG's participation in the project.
    Sir Moi and Mr Gabut traveled as part of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare's entourage to Tokyo. They remained there for talks with investors and Japanese government officials while Sir Michael traveled to Okinawa for the Pacific and Asia Leaders Meeting (PALM) Summit.
    Sir Moi and Mr Gabut traveled to Brisbane at the weekend and were to have had discussions with some gas customers for the proposed PNG-Australia gas pipeline project.
    Oil Search Chairman Trevor Kennedy said in the company's 2002 annual report released two weeks ago that "substantial technical work" had taken place over the past 12 months to identify "complementary or replacement development options" for the gas pipeline project.
    "Oil Search believes that a liquid cycling project, based initially on the Hides gas resource, is an attractive development for the large field.
    "This project has the potential to deliver material liquids production growth in 2006 and it will be actively pursued, should the pipeline project be delayed.
    "Other gas development options, including deliveries of gas to Port Moresby, and other energy using centres in the Pacific Islands and northern Australia, also appear attractive," said Mr Kennedy.
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