Japan pulls out of PNG-LNG stake

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, Mar. 21 -- The Japanese government has decided to sell its stake in the Papua New Guinea oil and gas joint venture with JX Holdings and Mitsubishi Corp.

The venture’s wholly owned company Merlin Petroleum Co. has a 4.7% interest in the ExxonMobil Corp.-operated $15 billion PNG LNG project.

JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp (wholly owned by JX Holdings) has 36.4% of the venture while Mitsubishi has 1.6%. The Japanese government’s 62% interest has been put up for tender.

Closing date for interested parties is Mar. 31, however trade ministry officials believe that a buyer is unlikely to be finalised for several months.

The PNG-LNG project will produce 6.6 million tonnes of LNG a year supplied by gas from the Kutubu-Hides group of fields in the highlands. It is scheduled to come on stream in 2014.

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