Papua New Guinea Holds First Licensing Round

Papua New Guinea's Department of Petroleum and Energy conducted its first ever oil and gas licensing round in an area covering the southern coastal and offshore region.

The licensing round covers a total of 15 blocks, which includes the Gulf of Papua, Papuan Plateau, the Moresby trough and parts of the Coral Sea. The areas on offer range from 1,900 square kilometers to 11,700 square kilometers and cover both shallow and deepwater. Some of the blocks include some adjoining onshore blocks.

Water depths vary from 20 meters in the west close to the Fly River mouth to over 2,500 meters in the eastern frontier area.

The seismic survey of the area was carried out by the department in collaboration with Fugro Multi Client Services to promote southern coastal and offshore areas for oil and gas exploration.

Licenses were opened in the presence of the acting secretary for Petroleum and Energy, Bernard Pawih, company representatives, department officials and the media to allow for transparency.

However, Mr. Pawih reported that the department received only one application by the closing date last Friday. He said this was due to change of Minister for Petroleum and Energy partway through licensing round process and with disputes regarding outstanding applications over some of the blocks on offer contributing to low interest.

Fifteen companies purchased bid packages and the department is trying to determine why applications were not submitted for the areas on offer.

"I am pleased to announce that the licensing round areas not under application have been reserved by the acting Minister for Petroleum and Energy to allow competitive applications with appropriate work commitments," Mr. Pawih said. The department will then go through the process pursuant to the licensing round guidelines in processing the application that has been received and prepare a report for the Petroleum Advisory Board (PAB).

The PAB will then prepare a report for the Minister and the National Executive Council containing recommendations as to the successful applicant.

The notice of award of license to the successful applicant will be announced in June.

"I welcome and urge all interested parties including any former applicants to apply in a new invitation period to be announced soon in accordance with the PNG 2006 licensing round guidelines," Mr. Pawih said.

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