The PRL 3 joint venture partners includes Oil Search 38.5 per cent, ExxonMobil 49 per cent and JX Nippon 12.5 per cent.
The Adelaide-based Santos already holds a 13.5 per cent stake in the PNG LNG project.
Last month, Santos’ Asia and north-west Australia vice-president John Anderson was reported as saying the company “was working on a potential deal that would give it a stake in the P’nyang gas field in Papua New Guinea, the main field designated to feed what is expected to be a lucrative expansion of the $US19 billion ($23.64 billion) PNG LNG venture”.
Sources close to ExxonMobil, the operator of the P’nyang permit, and Oil Search, which owns a 38.5 per cent stake in P’nyang, have confirmed talks are under way to sell a minority stake to Santos which will allow it to have exposure to the upstream exploration side of the development.
As reported by The Canberra Times, one option would involve all three joint venture partners decreasing their stake in the PRL 3 permit to give Santos a 10 per cent to 20 per cent holding.
Oil Search and Santos were already commercial partners in the Hides Deep field, a gas reservoir which had been tipped as an option for supply an expansion of PNG LNG.
ExxonMobil PNG Ltd when asked to comment said “it does not comment on commercial matters.”
Santos has been hurt on the share market by the collapse in crude prices, losing about $7 billion in market value in the second half of 2014.
It has slashed spending, cut more than 500 jobs and frozen salaries, while sales of pipelines are being studied. The National/Pacific Mining Watch