TotalEnergies may buy green power from Fortescue in Papua New Guinea -regulator

A sign with the logo of French oil and gas company TotalEnergies is pictured at a petrol station in Vertou near Nantes, France, October 26, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

SYDNEY, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Fortescue Future Industries is in talks with TotalEnergies to supply power to the fossil fuel company's Papua LNG project from a series of proposed renewable energy projects that a senior official says recently completed feasibility assessments.

Both companies were in talks as they prepare for final investment decisions on their respective projects in 2023, said Ronald Meketa, acting managing director at Papua New Guinea's energy regulator.

"Fortescue Future Industries is exploring a range of energy supply and offtake agreements globally for the supply of green energy," said an FFI spokesperson in response to a Reuters query.

TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), which is working on plans for its 5.4 million tonnes a year Papua LNG (liquefied natural gas) project, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.AX) founder Andrew Forrest signed a flurry of green hydrogen deals over 2020 and 2021 as the iron ore miner's wholly owned clean energy subsidiary looks to become a major green hydrogen producer.

Two agreements with Papua New Guinea signed in 2020 and 2021 enabled feasibility studies on up to 18 hydropower and geothermal projects in the country, including a hydro project along the Purari River on the nation's southern coast.

Fortescue has not provided any updates on the projects since December 2021 when it said a pre-feasibility study was well advanced.

But Meketa said Fortescue is preparing to drill up to five geothermal test wells after aerial surveys completed last week suggested good reservoir quality. A preliminary report has been lodged with the National Energy Authority.

Feasibility studies for hydropower projects are also completed, with priority given to a project which could provide power to Papua LNG.

"The government is very supportive of this project because it's renewable and it's hydrogen. We're looking at PNG as the hydrogen hub for the region," says Meketa.

He expected FFI would make final investment decisions for the hydropower and geothermal projects in 2023.

Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Kim Coghill

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