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Official: Arrangements in the Resources Sector Need to be Reviewed and Updated
by PNG Business News - January 11, 2021
In his 2021 economic outlook, PNG Institute of National Affairs Director Paul Barker said that there is a need to review and update fiscal arrangements in the resource sector. He said that the requirements involved constructive dialogue with project investors and operators.
“Review and updates also for individual projects when their licenses fell due for review or renewal, but this needed to be conducted in an open and orderly manner, avoiding undue disruption,” he said. “Constructive dialogue with the State using sound international reviews and evidence, and not being pushed about or spoon-fed. However, the art of making a good deal requires a readiness for compromise, unless there are very good grounds for not doing so, such as if the project is of marginal benefit, or can be advantageously deferred or rescheduled, rather than having multiple new projects simultaneously. Clearly, the costs or risks (including environmental) for some projects may be excessive and the Government fully justified in rejecting or deferring them, at least until better knowledge or technology is available.”
Barker said that in the past two years, the stand of the government was “unduly rigid over some prospective resource projects, seen as potentially providing a substantial economic stimulus impact, but most notably with the Porgera mine”.
“Unlike other projects, the Porgera mine was a long-operating mine in a remote part of the Highlands, in which the State had once held a significant equity, which was subsequently sold, except the province’s small but valuable share, together with the landowners’,” he said. “The investors were ready to improve the State’s and local equity and other benefits, and robust negotiations were certainly justified, but unfortunately the State’s demand seemed excessive and unduly rigid, and failed to appreciate the extent of economic and social benefits and revenue provided by the mine.”
PNG Business News - March 05, 2021
Report: Strong Trade for PNG
Falling export earnings have impacted the external sector of Papua New Guinea. But surging gold prices and import compression contained the damage. According to the World Bank PNG’s economic update titled “Dealing with a triple crisis”, the current account surplus broadened in the first half of 2020, which increased by 14 per cent. This was supported by a strong merchandise trade performance. It said that even if prices for major exports were reduced, the earnings from the mining sector, especially gold exports, posted a surplus. In addition, continued import compression brought about an overall current account surplus. Meanwhile, lower export earnings were more than offset by a 24 per cent decline year-on-year during the first half of 2020. Negative was the trade services balance, caused by negative balances on education, transport, and other business services. The deficits in income and services narrowed. These developments led the current account into a positive area. Earning exports decreased by 14.3 per cent, and prices of major exports also dropped since the beginning of the pandemic. Exports from mineral resources - which includes LNG - went down to 15 per cent year on year, crude oil decreased to 22 per cent and copper, 18 per cent. In addition, agricultural commodity exports decreased by 9.2 per cent, caused by lower export values for coffee, cocoa, and logs - with a little bit offset from palm oil exports. In spite of this decrease, the increase in the cost of gold outweighed all of these impacts, giving rise to the total export earnings to 9 per cent year on year.
PNG Business News - March 05, 2021
Fleming: There Will Be Confidence in PNG Economy
There will be confidence in the PNG economy in 2021.According to Bank South Pacific Group Chief Executive Officer Robin Fleming, this was attributed to the resource sector with several major projects in the pipeline - such as the Fiscal Stability Agreement signed between the Government and Total and Joint Venture Partners of the Papua LNG Project. This also included the Environmental Permit awarded to Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture for the mine negotiations to gin on the Wafi-Golpu Mine.“Certainly we feel that by the end of this year there is going to be far more confidence within the economy. The Wafi-Golpu Mine, and there is a much higher level of confidence within Lae as well, that the business community is looking at further expectations of growth,” he said. Other drivers to this growth also included the ongoing investments in infrastructure and the improvement of State-Owned Entities. “The Government has indicated in its Budget that it’s looking to continue with some of the development of the road construction, for the business community as they know they (PNG Power) got the capability to put their capital to investments which are revenue-generating and not just investments which are protecting their own infrastructure,” he said. The World Bank Groups Papua New Guinea Economic Update of January 2021 said that the Papua LNG Project and the fast resolutions related to key mining projects can contribute to higher inflows of taxation revenue and foreign currency.
PNG Business News - March 05, 2021
PNGEITI Report: Need for Greater Awareness
As a need under the EITI 2019 global practice standard, the Papua New Guinea Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PNGEITI) has published its first Beneficial Ownership (BO) Report. Head of PNGEITI National Secretariat Lucas Alkan said that this has already been published on its website last December 2020. “All EITI implementing countries including Papua New Guinea are required to produce a Beneficial Ownership Report by the 1st of January 2020,” he said.Alkan said to fully comply with this requirement, PNG should have a public register that lists the beneficial owners of corporate entities who hold a particular interest in oil, gas, or mining contracts. This also includes the identity of the beneficial owner. Besides implementing the EITI Standard, PNGEITI is devoted to making sure Beneficial Ownership information disclosure is implemented through its role in; Open Government Policy National Action Plan 2018-2020; the PNGEITI Annual Workplan 2019; and the PNGEITI BO Roadmap for Implementing disclosure including existing legislation such as the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Act 2015.Alkan said, however, that reporting entities did not fully understand the meaning of Beneficial Ownership Reporting. “This is because they were unable to provide complete information of what was requested in the reporting template,” he said. “In addition to the challenges faced in obtaining information for BO reporting, PNGEITI still does not have a legal basis to collect the required BO information which makes it difficult to obtain complete information from the companies.”There are, of course, many challenges that the report found. These include unfamiliarity with the BO concept especially for non-publicly listed companies; several reporting entities did not attend the BO training workshop, and complex corporate structures especially where there are multiple layers of ownership involving several jurisdictions and different types of legal entities.With these many gaps, the report recommends to have a dialogue with the following organizations: the Financial, Analysis and Supervision Unit (FASU) of the Bank of PNG, Investment Promotion Authority (IPA): and the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA).
PNG Business News - July 22, 2021
Oil Search Considering Merging with Santos
Santos, an Australian oil firm, announced its plan to combine with Oil Search Limited. Santos proposed a non-binding indicative merger last month with the goal of making the two companies the regional energy champions. The proposed merged entity has a market capitalization of A$22 billion (K56 billion), putting it among the top 20 ASX-listed companies and the top 20 global oil and gas companies. This means, among other things, that the merger will have a diverse portfolio of high-quality, long-life assets spanning Australia and Papua New Guinea, a solid balance sheet with ample cash to support expansion choices, and an investment-grade credit rating. The merger plan, if approved, would be conducted through a Scheme of Arrangement in which Oil Search shareholders would receive 0.589 new Santos shares for each Oil Search share held, according to Santos in a market disclosure to the Australian Stock Exchange. Following the scheme's acceptance, Oil Search shareholders would control 37% of the combined company, while Santos shareholders would own 63%. Based on Santos' closing price on June 24, 2021, the ownership ratio suggested a transaction price of A$4.25 (10.92) per Oil Search share. This was a 12.3% premium to the Oil Search closing price of A$3.78 (K9.72) on June 24, 2021, and a 9.8% premium to the Mubadala block trade selling price of A$3865. (K9.92). Kevin Gallagher, managing director and chief executive officer of Santos, said the merger will bring more alignment to PNG, allowing for the development of important projects such as Papua LNG, as well as the creation of new employment and support for the local economy. Santos, according to Gallagher, has proposed a true merger in which ownership of the combined firm is based on proportionate contribution and value. “The strategic rationale for a merger is clear and offers superior value to Oil Search shareholders rather than continuing on a standalone basis. “Santos continues to believe that the Merger Proposal represents an extremely attractive opportunity to deliver compelling value accretion to both Santos and Oil Search shareholders.” Oil Search stated in its ASX market update that it is open to receiving and engaging with any proposal that is in the best interests of its shareholders. While the company's board of directors agrees with Santos that combining the two firms makes strategic sense, the conditions must be fair to the company's shareholders, which the terms proposed by Santos are not. Despite Santos shareholders holding 70% more shares than Oil Search shareholders, Oil Search maintains that the proposed conditions provide just a 6.8% premium based on Friday's closing share prices for Oil Search and Santos. According to the firm, no such proposal has been made at this time. Reference: Post-Courier (21 July 2021). "Oil Search Open To Merger with Santos".
PNG Business News - July 21, 2021
Study Says Sweet Potato Growers Have Received Significant Insights into Customers Buying Habits
In Papua New Guinea (PNG), sweet potato (kaukau) growers have received significant insight into customer buying habits, which is assisting them in identifying new market possibilities. The recent market analysis, which was supported by the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership and conducted by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, revealed that an increasing number of consumers in Port Moresby prefer to buy fresh produce from supermarkets, citing convenience and safety as reasons. While this trend may result in fewer consumers at conventional farmer markets, PNG and Australian experts believe it may open up new marketplaces for rural people. “Farmers are looking for stable markets where they can receive more consistent prices for better-quality produce,” said Professor Philip Brown from Central Queensland University (CQU), who is leading the research project. “The research shows that consumer behaviour is likely to support an expansion in the supermarket sector in large urban centres and this is positive news for the farmers. This could allow commercial focused farmers to secure more stable market access.” The study of 353 customers was conducted as part of ACIAR-funded sweet potato research sponsored by CQU and the PNG National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), which aims to improve sweet potato value chains by increasing the quality of harvested roots. Sweet potato quality and production are improving, resulting in increasing supplies to retailers eager to provide better fresh produce. “The project, with support from the Fresh Produce Development Agency and NARI, is helping farmers to build their business skills and connect with emerging supermarket opportunities,” said Professor Brown. Kirt Hainzer, a CQU researcher who collaborated on the survey alongside NARI researchers, said it was the first study to look at customer behaviour and see what role stores may play in the development of PNG's commercial sweet potato sector. “The research sought to better understand and compare how consumers buy staples from open markets and supermarkets and to explore the preferences for purchasing staple foods as supermarkets increase the availability of convenience staples like rice,” said Hainzer. “Although expanding formal sales represents a huge step forward in developing a commercial sweet potato industry, continued research on consumer preferences and the market for fresh produce will help better understand trends in staple food purchasing and what market opportunities exist for growers.” With over a hundred kinds of sweet potato in the nation, NARI economist Raywin Ovah said the study sought to find out which of these customers preferred. “Not all the varieties are preferred from a consumer point of view. There are only a few that consumers want to be based on the taste or health properties and that is what we want to also find out. Farmers can be provided with that information, so they produce those varieties that the market wants.” One of five initiatives under the Transformative Agriculture and Enterprise Development Program is a project to increase commercial sweet potato production and commercialization in the PNG highlands. The ACIAR program, which is funded by Australia in collaboration with the government of Papua New Guinea, aims to improve the livelihoods of rural men and women through private sector-led development, increased agricultural productivity and quality, and the development of individual and institutional capacity. Reference: Loop (20 July 2021). “Study looks into sweet potato industry”.
PNG Business News - July 21, 2021
Garry: MRA Evaluating K50 Billion Worth of Investments
According to managing director Jerry Garry, the Mineral Resources Authority is evaluating more than K50 billion in investments in the country. Wafi-Golpu, Frieda River, and Woodlark are among them. “We are also looking at the Central Lime and Cement,” he said. “If that project comes on-stream, it will be one of the first industrial mines ever built in the country.” Garry was speaking at a Port Moresby consultation session on the Mine and Works (Safety and Health) Bill 2021. PNG, he added, was home to some of the world's largest mines. “We have grown from strength to strength,” he said. “If you compare the Bank of PNG statistics, the mining sector alone, in terms of production, has exported over K17 billion in 2020 and 2019. “So it’s a huge industry that we are trying to regulate and manage.” Garry expressed gratitude to the industry for making safety a primary priority. “They have been taking health and safety at the workplaces very seriously,” he said. “We must not only consider (the workers) and the environment but also people living around the (areas) we operate in. “And if we are using any hazards, we must also take responsibility.” The newest mining methods in Wafi-Golpu, known as block cave mining, are one of the new things to expect, according to Garry. “New mining hazards will come with this new mining method,” he said. Reference: The National (20 July 2021). “Authority assessing investments worth K50bil”.