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PNG owned company plans to finance oil, gas projects

Staff Reporter | 5:33 PM | |
Papua New Guinea’s National Petroleum Company (NPCP) said it is looking to raise billions of dollars to help fund new oil and gas projects, as the South Pacific country battles a sharp slump in forecast revenue from a plunge in prices for the commodities.

According to a report by Reuters newswire in Sydney this week, NPCP holds a 16.6 per cent stake in the PNG LNG project, which operator ExxonMobil Corp wants to expand, and has the rights to take up to a 20 per cent stake in the Elk-Antelope fields, the country’s largest undeveloped gas resource.

Reuters has reported that while prospects for new liquefied natural gas developments globally have been hammered by the fallout from a 50 per cent drop in oil prices since last June, projects in PNG are seen as vital to the country’s economy.

"We are getting a financial adviser on board to work out the structure," Robert Acevski, chief financial officer at NPCP, told Reuters by telephone on Monday.

"Eventually, we’ll go to the market to raise debt on top of our equity to participate in new projects."

The projects, which have yet to be finalised, involve multinational firms such as Total SA, ExxonMobil, Santos and Oil Search.

Total SA operates the Elk-Antelope fields.

Funding an expansion of PNG LNG and any Elk-Antelope development will require NPCP to contribute billions of dollars in the next three years, so it makes sense for it to raise debt well before it needs the money, two industry executives said.

"There was a big increase in revenue that was on the cards only nine months ago, all predicated on the LNG revenue, which is of course drastically reduced. It’s an issue facing the whole country," said Greg Anderson, executive director of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum.

"An adviser is expected to be appointed within weeks, with fundraising to kick off later this year or in 2016," Acevski said.

The financing would include "plain" US denominated debt.

The official said it was too early to give an exact amount, but said it would be in billions of dollars.

NPCP managing director Wapu Sonk yesterday confirmed the news report with Post-Courier stating: "I can confirm we are in the process of appointing a Financial Advisor so we develop our own Financing strategies for future projects like the ExxonMobil lead PNGLNG Project expansion, Total’s Gulf LNG project and other small ones like the Stanley project, Ketu/Elevala,etc..."

The managing director, however said: "It’s just preparatory work and not financing work," when requested if he was able to disclose additional information. Post Coureir