The project which has attracted huge criticism from international, local environment campaigners, is expected to begin its construction in 2017. In a statement released last week, Nautilus said the focus of the Project will now be to complete the build of the seafloor production equipment and vessel so that Nautilus can make seafloor mining a reality.
While announcing the release of its escrew funds of US$113 (K290.48 million) to Nautilus, the company was reportedly excited to partner with the State Nominee, Petromin PNG Holdings Limited (Petromin) in the development of the new industry, which is anticipated to generate significant economic activity within the State and the impacted Province.
The company also announced that the joint venture between Nautilus and the nominee of Petromin’s subsidiary Eda Kopa, in respect of the Solwara 1 Project, has now been formed. Under the terms of the agreement between the parties, Petromin has confirmed fully funded its 15% interest in the Solwara 1 Project up to first production.
Nautilus chief executive Michael Johnston commented, "we are excited to have achieved completion under our Agreement and to formally commence our partnership in the Solwara 1 Project with the State’s nominee, Eda Kopa (Solwara) Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Petromin. "We appreciate the continued support we have received from the State Nominee in reaching this significant milestone," he added.
Meanwhile, Sir Brown Bai, Petromin Board chairman told stakeholders and media last week; "Eda Kopa now stands ready, together with its joint venture partner and manager of the Project, Nautilus, to enter into the next stage of Solwara 1’s life – the development stage.
"Given the challenging circumstances surrounding this Project, I believe that Petromin has proven that it has the capacity and competencies to hold and manage even the most challenging of the State’s resource assets, in a commercial sound and prudent manner.
The solutions and agreements reached with Nautilus and reflected in the MEA and the joint venture documents were all discussed by Petromin, with not only its interests but also the interests of the State in mind, as the State is our Beneficial Shareholder," Sir Brown added.