PNG Signs Tax Arrangement For Pipline Grouping

The Papua New Guinea government and several energy companies signed an agreement covering the fiscal arrangements for a proposed natural gas pipeline between PNG and Australia, stated Industry, Tourism and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane. "With the agreement setting out the terms and conditions necessary for developing, producing and marketing the resource, the joint venture partners will now step up their marketing activities in Queensland and Southeast Australia," he said in a statement. ExxonMobilCorp. is the project operator, while Oil Search Ltd. and ChevronTexaco are each majority stakeholders. Macfarlane said further development of the project depends on securing appropriate gas markets in Australia.

The signing of the gas agreement comes two days after the Queensland government selected coal seam methane from the Bowen Basin as the fuel of choice for a base-load power generator at Townsville city, a contract the PNG gas project was keen to win. The minister said while the Townsville contract wasn't essential to the PNG gas project, it would have provided a timely boost for it. The PNG gas project has the potential to attract major development in Queensland and supply key markets in southern Australia, he said.

The A$6.8 billion project involves building a 3,200-kilometer pipeline from Papua New Guinea 's highlands, under the Torres Strait and along Queensland's east coast to Brisbane , plus a spur line to a central Australian gas distribution hub at Moomba. The plan includes stripping condensate at a rate of 15,000 barrels a day and liquefied petroleum gas from the gas at a site near Papua New Guinea's south coast. More than 1 million metric tons of LPG could be stripped from the gas in total, making it a major LPG operation. Australian Gas Light Co. holds a right to build, own and operate the Australian section of the pipeline in partnership with Petronas.

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