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new pipeline customer speculation

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    On again- off again - here's the latest from PNG National

    PNG gas sector in a frenzy

    Another gas customer expected to raise export volume required for FEED


    OIL and gas industry heavies are expecting an announcement by the weekend of another major customer signing up for Papua New Guinea gas project in Queensland, Australia.
    Speculation was also rife in Government circles that the new customer is Comalco which has decided to enter the market after hesitating over the last two years.
    One official said yesterday that there is excitement in the air.
    He said: "we are expected to get some good news by the weekend that should give the required export volume for Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) to start."
    The excitement is being further fanned by the expected arrivals over the weekend of executives of ExxonMobil who are the project managers of the PNG-Queensland gas project.
    Also arriving over the weekend are Mitsubishi Chemicals for discussions with Oil Search Limited on the proposed gas methanol plant and gas pipeline to Port Moresby.
    Already in PNG are executives of Itochu Corporation, the preferred joint venture partner of the PNG government in the PNG-Qld gas project. Itochu officials were yesterday briefing the Government on its financial package for the it to finance its equity in the gas project.
    "We strongly believe that Australia will eventually buy a huge amount of gas from PNG. We have a strong believe in that, that is why we need to prepare for that," said Itochu's team leader to PNG Mr Hiroyuki Tsubai.
    Petroleum Minister Sir Moi Avei told reporters on Wednesday that ExxonMobil had been requested to brief the PNG Government and its partners on the latest state of play in the pipeline project.
    "I want to tell ExxonMobil that the State and Itochu are ready for the gas project," said Sir Moi.
    On Wednesday, he asked his departmental head, Mr Joseph Gabut, to ensure that Itochu officials were included in the briefing sessions that ExxonMobil would present to the Government on Monday.
    "I've invited ExxonMobil, they'll be here for discussions with the State on Monday," said Sir Moi.
    The minister also announced that there has been expressions of interest by Canadian and Malaysian companies for PNG's oil and gas resources. Mr Gabut said a Candian firm has applied for two more exploration licences in addition to two blocks already grant.
    Minister Avei was to have travelled to Malaysia for talks with Petronas, a large sate-owned oil and gas company, but had deferred his trip because of the meetings with the major players arriving in PNG.
    Secretary Gabut said the increased exploration and drilling activities in the country is directly attributed to the tax incentives applied by the Government in the 2003 budget.
    He said his officers had been involved in a number of international road-shows in Salt Lake City in the US and in Japan resulting in renewed interest. "We are seeing positive signs in the exploration and drilling programs," he said.
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