InterOil-Exxon talk

Business, Normal

The National, Monday July 15th, 2013

 INTEROIL, the explorer in talks with ExxonMobil to develop natural gas discoveries in Papua New Guinea, said negotiations are progressing with the world’s largest energy company by market value. 

“It’s moving along nicely,” Michael Hession, the former Woodside Petroleum Ltd (WPL) executive named last Friday as InterOil’s chief executive officer, said. 

“I’m not disturbed in any way, shape or form … I’d emphasise that Exxon and this negotiation are going to be my number one priority.” 

InterOil said in May that it started exclusive discussions with Exxon to develop the gas fields in PNG. 

Exxon is interested in the assets because they might help expand the oil producer’s US$19 billion liquefied natural gas project in the country, Mark Nolan, vice-president for the Middle East and Australia, told reporters in Brisbane last May. 

Hession, who brought PetroChina Co, Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsui & Co into Woodside’s Browse LNG project in Australia in agreements reached last year, said he carried out extensive research into InterOil before joining the company. 

“I’ve been in discussions with InterOil for some months, since before I left Woodside,” he said. 

“It has been a careful and measured courtship.” 

InterOil has been searching for international partners to help fund a PNG natural gas project since 2009, when Bank of America Corp Merrill Lynch sold its 35% stake in the venture. 

Phil Mulacek, who founded the company, retired as chief executive officer in April. – Bloomberg