The National, Friday, June 10th 2011
JAPAN’s trade ministry said on Tuesday it had sold a 62% stake in a Papua New Guinea oil and gas venture to JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp for ¥19 billion (US$237 million), according to Reuters news yesterday.
Japan’s JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp, a unit of JX Holdings, boosted its stake in the venture to 98.4 % from a previous 36.4%, while Mitsubishi Corp holds the rest.
A wholly-owned unit of the venture, Merlin Petroleum Co, holds a 4.7% stake in an ExxonMobil-led US$15 billion liquefied natural gas project in PNG.
The tender was part of the government’s policy to divest upstream energy stakes held by the now-abolished Japan National Oil Corp.
An LNG trader told Reuters that the market had expected either JX or Mitsubishi to be the buyer.
“Considering that there are other good projects out there and the market interest in this project is not that high, the price seems a little bit expensive,” he said.
Exxon is the biggest stakeholder in the PNG LNG project, which will produce 6.6 million tonnes per year of LNG when it comes online in 2014.
The trade ministry last sold upstream stakes in North Sea and Thai ventures in 2008 for a total of ¥31 billion (US$374 million) to two Japanese explorers.