Sydney: French oil major Total has entered Papua New Guinea for the first time, taking stakes ranging from 35% -50% in five exploration blocks, likely to spur gas development in the southeast Asia nation.
Australia's Oil Search said Tuesday it has sold half of its interests in the assets to Total in exchange for the reimbursement of past license costs, and Total will pay part of the cost of drilling for natural gas.
Drilling is scheduled to start in the first quarter of next year, and any significant discoveries of natural gas could lead to the construction of a new terminal in Papua New Guinea or an expansion of the US$15.7bn PNG LNG export terminal led by ExxonMobil Corp.
Papua New Guinea has an estimated 22.6trn cu ft of natural gas reserves, according to Wood Mackenzie, or the equivalent of the US's natural gas consumption in a year. [09/10/12]