TUESDAY, Dec 8, 2009, will go into PNG’s history books as it marks the dawning of a new era in PNG with the announcement by the world’s leading oil company, ExxonMobil, to sanction the PNG LNG project.
ExxonMobil’s decision to go ahead with the project is a huge mark of confidence in PNG as a preferred investment destination and a reliable LNG exporter.
This positive news now elevates PNG’s status on the world map as one of the most preferred and attractive investment destinations in the world, particularly in the context of global petroleum business.
Until the Hela region officially becomes a province in 2012, the principal host province of the PNG LNG project is the Southern Highlands province.
With the exception of the Juha gas field, which is located on the border of SHP and Western, all the gas and associated fields that will supply raw gas for the PNG LNG project are located in SHP.
All affected landowners and provincial governments must appreciate that luring international investors to PNG was not an easy task.
The risks associated with petroleum business, especially investing in upstream exploration are comparatively very high in PNG.
The country, therefore, owes the people who worked behind the scene to promote PNG’s hydrocarbon potential by luring oil companies to invest here either by introducing appropriate and internationally competitive policy and legislation changes or through the provision of a strong and predicable leadership.
In this context, I pay special tribute to two former Southern Highlands Regional MPs – the late Francis Pusal and Sir Wiwa Korowi – for playing an important part in promoting PNG’s petroleum industry prior to the big oil and gas discoveries in SHP.
Sir Wiwa was minister for Energy and Public Utilities between 1981 and 1982 while the late Mr Pusal was minister for Minerals and Energy between 1982 and 1987.
Two days later, on Thursday, Dec 10, prime Minister Sir Michael Somare announced the Government’s approval of the project agreement for the InterOil-led second LNG project in Port Moresby.
Sir Michael revealed that he directed Mr Pusal in 1982 to go for an international road-show to promote and showcase PNG’s petroleum potential in New York, London, Sydney and Toronto.
Four years later, in 1986, the Iagifu field in Kutubu became the country’s first commercial oil discovery.
This was followed by the discovery of the world-class Hides gas field in 1990.
The rest, as they say, is history .