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PNG, Total ready to renegotiate terms of Papua LNG Gas Agreement

Sydney — Papua New Guinea's Ministry of Petroleum has sent a team to Singapore to re-negotiate with French major Total the terms of the Papua LNG Gas Agreement, which was signed by the country's previous government on April 19.

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The deal, seen by the government as disadvantageous to PNG, is key to the development of the country's second LNG export project, the 5.4 million mt/year Papua LNG, which is expected to take a final investment decision in 2020 and start operations in 2024.

"Success in the discussions could lead to an early progress of the project. By the same token failure could have very serious ramifications. But failure must not be ruled out and must remain within our contemplation," PNG's minister for petroleum Kerenga Kua said in a statement Thursday.

He said the new government has taken the view that the Papua Gas Agreement is disadvantageous to the state and the country's citizens.

The team being sent to Singapore -- which is a State Negotiation Team authorized by the National Executive Council -- is expected to return to PNG early next week, he said.

Papua LNG project participant Oil Search managing director Peter Botten said: "We look forward to further clarity on the state's position regarding this agreement and ways forward for the project".

Along with operator Total and Oil Search, ExxonMobil is also involved.

Papua LNG is planned to have three 2.7 million mt/year capacity LNG trains.

-- Abache Abreu, abache.abreu@spglobal.com

-- Nathan Richardson, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jonathan Dart, jonathan.dart@spglobal.com