x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

IPIC eyes Papua New Guinea gas stake

Oil Search, an Australian oil and gas firm that owns 34 per cent of PNG LNG, has said it is close to a deal to sell a 3.5 per cent interest in the project to IPIC.

Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) may buy a direct stake in a Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (LNG) development, increasing its indirect holding in the big gas export project. Oil Search, an Australian oil and gas firm that owns 34 per cent of PNG LNG, has said it is close to a deal to sell a 3.5 per cent interest in the project to IPIC, the Abu Dhabi Government-owned energy investment company, to help raise development funds. It said the transaction's price would be disclosed once the companies had reached an agreement.

PNG LNG is one of several very large developments planned to boost gas exports from Australasia to energy hungry countries in the Far East such as China. Oil Search, which has teamed up with Exxon Mobil and some smaller firms to develop PNG LNG, has estimated the project's cost at US$11 billion (Dh40.37bn) to $12.5bn. That would include the development of gasfields, pipelines and the liquefaction plant. Oil Search's share of the investment could be as high as US$4.8bn.

Analysts said selling part of the project was one of a number of options Oil Search could pursue to raise the money. Based on an earlier estimate by JPMorgan, a 3.5 per cent stake in PNG LNG could be worth about US$700 million. tcarlisle@thenational.ae