PERTH Oct 9 France's Total made its
first venture into Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, signing a deal
with Australia's Oil Search to acquire five licensing
agreements in the onshore and offshore Gulf of Papua region.
Oil Search, which has operated in Papua New Guinea for
decades, and Total will hold equal interests in the five
licenses, Oil Search said in statement released on Tuesday.
"The farm-in... is in line with our strategy to strengthen
our presence in the Asia Pacific, particularly in the gas and
LNG sectors," said Jean-Marie Guillermou, senior vice president
of Total exploration and production in Asia-Pacific.
Total has been recently expanding its portfolio in Asia and
in January made a final investment decision, along with joint
venture partner Inpex, on Australia's $34 billion
Ichthys liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Darwin.
A drilling program on the offshore licenses will begin in
the first quarter of 2013, Oil Search said.
"In the event of exploration and appraisal success that
leads to an LNG project, Total would develop and operate the
downstream facilities of any development," said Peter Botten,
Oil Search's managing director.
Papua New Guinea has several LNG projects already under way,
including Exxon's $15.7 billion PNG LNG project, which is
expected to come online in 2014.
InterOil Corp has also been planning a $6 billion
LNG project, but is still finalising the specifications of the
project with the government.