Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan unloads stake in Papua New Guinea gas venture

THE Japanese government has begun unloading its stake in a Papua New Guinea oil and gas joint venture with JX Holdings and Mitsubishi Corp, The National reports.

Last Friday, the government through its trade ministry, offered its 62% stake (159,120 shares in the joint venture Japan-Papua New Guinea Petroleum Co.

The tender closes on March 31, with bids to be opened immediately.

But a buyer is unlikely to be finalised for several months after the tender closes due to a need to clear various procedures involving the sale of a stake in an unlisted firm, a trade ministry official said.

The tender was part of a policy to divest upstream energy stakes held previously by now-defunct Japan National Oil Corp, once the sale was finalised, the official added.

The venture’s wholly owned unit Merlin Petroleum Co has a 4.7 % stake in Exxon Mobil-led US$15 billion (K50 billion) liquefied natural gas project.

Japan’s JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp, a wholly owned unit of JX Holdings, holds 36.4 % of the venture, while Mitsubishi has the remaining 1.6%.

Exxon is the biggest stakeholder in the PNG LNG project, which will produce 6.6 million tonnes per year of LNG when it comes online in 2014.

The trade ministry last sold its share of upstream stakes in North Sea and Thai ventures in 2008 for a total of ¥31 billion (US$374 million) to two Japanese explorers.



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