Papua New Guinea LNG Project Gets Environmental Nod

The PNG LNG Project reached another milestone yesterday with the approval of the final environment impact statement by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Operator ExxonMobil's subsidiary Esso Highlands managing director, Peter Graham, said this confirmed the most comprehensive environmental assessment in the country's history.

The impact statement contains assessments undertaken by environmental experts with years of experience working in Papua New Guinea and information from the current oil field operations, resulting in the most detailed and definitive environmental assessment ever completed in Papua New Guinea.

"We are pleased that the PNG LNG project has secured approval of its overall environmental assessment by the State of PNG," Mr Graham said. "This is another important project milestone, as it allows the project team to secure final approval for the detailed environment management plans which will guide implementation of the construction works."

The PNG LNG Project will continue to work with the Department of Environment and Conservation, other government departments and its potential lenders to secure related environmental and social management plan approvals. A final investment decision on the project is expected late this year.

The PNG LNG project is an integrated development that includes gas production and processing facilities, onshore and offshore pipelines and LNG plant facilities.

Oil Search managing director Peter Botten said, "We are delighted government approval of the PNG LNG Project's EIS has been received. With another project milestone accomplished, PNG LNG remains on track for a final investment decision (FID) in December 2009."

Participating interests are ExxonMobil (through various affiliates, including Esso Highlands Limited as operator) 41.5 percent, Oil Search 34.0 percent, Santos 17.7 percent, Nippon Oil 5.4 percent, Minerals Resources Development Company 1.2 percent and Eda Oil Limited 0.2 percent. Participation will change when PNG state nominees join as equity participants.

BBC Monitoring. Copyright BBC.