The National, Friday June 21st, 2013
By CARMEL PILOTTI
THE massive natural gas resource in Gulf province warrant a separate project despite current moves to combine it with the ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG Project, a former politician says.
Tony Ila, a former four-term Lae MP, said yesterday that the proposal to link up the Elk and Antelop gas fields in the Gulf hinterland with the PNG LNG project in Hela would deny Gulf and its people the full benefits of a world-class project.
He said ExxonMobil should not be allowed to dominate the PNG energy industry by also developing the Gulf gas resource.
He said it would be healthier for the Government to allow other global energy companies to develop the Elk and Antelope gas fields.
“The Elk and Antelope gas reserves supposedly have a greater lifespan than other gas resources in the country and this should warrant a full-scale project of its own, including a conditioning and liquefying plant,” Ila, a former labour minister under former prime minister Sir Michael Somare, said.
Global giant ExxonMobil is holding discussions with Canadian company InterOil on the possibility of forming a joint venture to develop the Elk and Antelope gas fields.
If the talks are successful, it is proposed that the Gulf fields would add to the current PNG LNG supplies and almost double its lifespan.
PNG-based InterOil currently holds petroleum prospecting licences (PPLs) for the two Gulf fields.
InterOil had initially proposed for a 407km offshore pipeline to run from Orokolo Bay in the Ihu district of Gulf to its Napanapa oil refinery near Port Moresby.
Ila also supported a statement this week by Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma who said he was concerned about ExxonMobil’s involvement in the proposed Gulf gas development.
Duma was quoted as saying said that it may not be wise to allow one major energy company to dominate the industry in the country.
Ila said Gulf had been neglected for too long and if its natural gas resources were to add to the overall PNG LNG project, the province and its people would continue to suffer while others benefited.