Tuesday, May 15, 2012

InterOil still on sidelines

New York listed InterOil, which for more than five years had been suggesting it may enter export markets even before ExxonMobil’s PNG LNG Project, is still somewhat on the sidelines, The National reports.

Construction work continues on the two massive trains at the multi-billion PNG LNG project liquefaction and storage facility site outside Port Moresby last Friday.-Nationalpic by MALUM NALU
It obtained PNG government development approval in late 2009 at about the same time as ExxonMobil, but kept changing its goalposts to the annoyance of PNG’s Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma.
InterOil anticipates that a final investment decision could be forthcoming by the year end.
The market was nevertheless taken by surprise when InterOil announced a few days ago that it had farmed out a 10% stake in PPL 237 (petroleum prospecting licence) and its planned Triceratops well for staged cash payments of US$116 million and additional project and resource payments with a combined value of US$345 million.
The PNG newcomer in this deal is Pacific Rubiales Energy, a Toronto-listed company with crude oil production in Colombia of over 250,000 barrels a day.
The potential of PPL237 is not known, but InterOil boasts 8.6 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas and 128.9 million barrels of condensate at its nearby Elk and Antelope fields, which are the subject of government approval.
Minister Duma has been reported to favour the entry of Shell and has insisted that InterOil partners with a reputable global producer, a process that is currently underway.
“This sale (to Pacific Rubiales) is not associated with the planned sale of an interest in the Elk and Antelope fields and related LNG equity partnering process targeted for the second quarter of 2012,” commented InterOil’s chief executive, Phil Mulacek.
Meantime, Canada’s Talisman Energy was a reluctant starter in PNG’s LNG stakes some three years ago when it tried to sell off its interest in the offshore Pandora gas field.
It changed tack because of pathetic responses and embarked on a gas aggregation strategy in the then neglected Western province.
In the next couple of years it will commence condensate exports and it aims to prove up enough gas for a three million tonnes a year LNG operation.
These prospects received a major fillip in late February when the Japanese trading giant, Mitsubishi, invested US$280 million for a 20% stake in nine leases that Talisman held with a number of Australian-listed oil juniors, including New Guinea Energy, Kina Petroleum and Horizon Oil.
Despite a difficult story when it first listed at 20 cents on Dec 19 last year, Kina has since enjoyed a Cinderella performance with its shares hitting a record 40c on May 1, a 100% rise in just over four months.
Oil Search, historically the single biggest player with a PNG history dating back to 1929, is meantime stepping up plans to discover enough reserves in the Gulf of Papua region for a separate standalone LNG operation.

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