PNG LNG production restarts early following earthquake

Production at the PNG LNG project in Papua New Guinea has resumed following the temporary shutdown of operations caused by the severe earthquake that struck the country in February.

Operator ExxonMobil, with Australian-based partners Oil Search and Santos, has resumed production at PNG LNG ahead of a projected eight-week timeframe.

ExxonMobil announced that one train was operating at the LNG plant near Port Moresby, while the second train was expected to restart as production increased over time. Exports are expected to “resume soon”, according to ExxonMobil.

The oil and gas major added it was able to complete unrelated maintenance scheduled for later this year during the shutdown, allowing for more efficient operations in the months ahead.

Oil Search managing director Peter Botten said the restart of operations, ahead of the eight-week timeframe, was a major achievement by the operator.

“At present, one LNG train is at the LNG plant site, with the second train expected to start up as production from the Hides field and the Oil Search-operated Associated Gas fields ramp up,” Botten said.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the magnitude 7.5 quake hit about 90km south-west of Porgera at a depth of 35km on February 26.

The three stakeholders have supported local and international relief agencies involved in the humanitarian response to the earthquake.

ExxonMobil contributed $1 million to the humanitarian relief, as well as food, drinking water and other facilities. Oil Search and Santos have both made similar relief contributions to local PNG communities affected by the earthquake.

Santos managing director Kevin Gallagher said the company “looks forward to continuing to work with our local communities in PNG who still have a long road to recovery following the loss of life, homes and crops caused by the earthquake.”

Kumul Petroleum Holdings, JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration and Minerals Resources Development Company also own shares in the PNG LNG project.

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