April 11, 2019 / 8:17 AM / 6 months ago

Papua New Guinea finance minister steps down after LNG deal

MELBOURNE, April 11 (Reuters) - Papua New Guinea’s finance minister said he resigned from cabinet on Thursday in a disagreement over resources policy after the government signed a new natural gas development deal with energy majors. James Marape cited differences with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on the issue of higher local participation in the resources industry, and laws related to wealth generation.

“It is with regret that I announce my resignation as Minister of State in the O’Neill Abel government,” Marape said in a statement, referring to Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel.

France’s Total and its partners signed a long-awaited deal with Papua New Guinea on Tuesday that will allow initial work to start on a $13 billion plan to double the country’s liquefied natural gas exports.

Developing the Pacific island nation’s gas reserves is crucial for an economy that relies on LNG as its biggest export earner at a time when demand for the fuel is surging globally.

O’Neill’s office said he accepted the resignation of Marape, who will remain a member of parliament. (Reporting by Sonali Paul in MELBOURNE and Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY; editing by Darren Schuettler)

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