By MALUM NALU
PETROMIN chief executive officer and managing director Joshua Kalinoe is waiting for a dispute between the state and Nautilus Minerals to be resolved before Petromin can take a 30% stake in the Nautilus development worth up to US$500 million, The National reports.
Kalinoe said this yesterday at a luncheon he held with members of the media while refusing to go into details of the dispute between state and Nautilus.
“There’s a dispute between the state and the developer (Nautilus),” he said.
“Because of that, we can’t do much.
“We have been nominated (by the state) to participate in the project.
“Until the dispute is resolved, we can’t do much.
“The issue has been disputed by Nautilus, not by the state.
“By doing so, they (Nautilus) are delaying the project, not the state.”
In June Nautilus chief executive Stephen Rogers said that he expects to settle things with Petromin within “months” once the election was over, but that now seemed a more remote possibility.
Nautilus says PNG undertook to help fund the Solwara 1 project – almost half built – as part of an agreement signed last year that gave the country 30% ownership, but the government appears to be digging in its heals over the issue.
In a response in June, Petromin alleged that Nautilus was the party that breached the terms of the deal and that the state was “therefore entitled to terminate the agreement”.
In late April, Nautilus announced it had signed China’s Tongling Non-Ferrous Metals Group as the first customer for its pioneering PNG sea-floor mine.
The undersea mine was slated to begin production in the fourth quarter of next year, but Nautilus is also facing funding problems concerning its German partner building the US$160 million surface vessel, which is the base for the entire underwater operation.
Nautilus still has some US$100 million cash in the bank.
Kalinoe, meantime, said Petromin was waiting for the final decision on the Gulf LNG project and the Wafi-Golpu project in Morobe to make final decisions.
“Again, we’re waiting for a decision by state on when the project will get formally off the ground,” he said of the Gulf LNG.
On Wafi-Golpu, Kalinoe said Petromin had been nominated by the state and was doing desktop studies as well as those on technical and economic aspects.
“We’re just waiting for the developer Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture to go through the process and wait for the final decisions,” he said.
“This is normal.
“The state nominated us through the minister for mining and the minister for petroleum.”