Oil Search committed to protecting the people of Papua New Guinea from the spread of COVID-19
by PNG Business News - October 04, 2021
From L – R: Dr Flora Jethro, Oil Search Field Lead Medical Officer, Dr Julia Stinshoff, Senior Medical Officer, Sr Ruth Sala, Oil Search Registered Nurse, Api Kassman, Head of the COVID-19 Vaccination Ministerial Task Force and Leon Buskens, Oil Search Executive Vice President & Co-Head PNG witnessing Oil Search employee Nicholas Koromugo being vaccinated in the Company’s medical clinic by Sr Janet Hoiba, Oil Search Clinic Supervisor.
Oil Search is strongly committed to protecting the people of Papua New Guinea from the spread of COVID-19.
After signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Papua New Guinean National Control Centre (NCC) for COVID19, the company is now administering the COVID-19 vaccination to staff and community.
“We are happy that we are able to be a major part of the solution by working collaboratively with our National Government and NCC, in proactively managing the growing severe risks of COVID-19 through vaccination,” said Leon Buskens, Oil Search Executive Vice President & Co-Head PNG.
“Oil Search is always there in times of disaster such as the earthquake and droughts working with our leaders and communities. We are pleased to be able to again contribute with the COVID-19 disaster. COVID-19 is real and has and can further cripple social and economic living.”
To date, all of Oil Search’s PNG field operations including its Moro site remain COVID-free. This has been a result of strict protocols, including quarantine, twice weekly testing and wastewater testing.
Oil Search has conducted more than 54,000 COVID-19 tests at its medical clinics and quarantine facilities, distributed 450,000 items of personal protective equipment to health workers, and administered more than 1300 doses of the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines. More than 1150 Oil Search staff and contractors in PNG have now received their COVID-19 vaccination.
In addition, the Company continues to assist the PNG Government COVID-19 response through dedicated PNG industry task force with supply chain and logistics as requested.
Api Kassman, the head of the COVID-19 Vaccination Ministerial Task Force said that the Government is now directly engaging with companies that have registered medical staff so they can administer vaccines.
“Companies such as Oil Search have medical staff who are able to administer vaccinations and so they are expanding vaccine coverage to workers, their families and community members. We appreciate these companies that are playing an important role in helping our people to vaccine.
“For other private sector businesses who are looking to have their workforce fully vaccinated, we also have mobile vaccine units that can visit the offices and workshops. After the first phase of the vaccine rollout, it has become very clear that we must have more mobile units to take vaccines to our people.”
Mr Kassman called on businesses around the country to register their interests in receiving vaccines through the National Call Centre. “The number to call is 1-800-200. You just need to call and leave your details and you will be contacted to arrange an appointment. The range of vaccines available has also expanded with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which is made by the same company that makes the baby powder and shampoo.
“Johnson & Johnson is also a single-dose vaccine, and this means people only need one shot to be fully vaccinated. Everyone is strongly encouraged to be vaccinated to protect individuals, families and communities from this deadly virus,” Mr Kassman said.
Article courtesy of Oil Search
PNG Business News - March 29, 2021
Oil Search Operating With Measures
Oil Search claims that stringent quarantine procedures, behaviour restrictions, and personnel roster guidelines put in place last year have secured the company's activities in the region. In a statement, Oil Search said that no cases of Covid-19 had been identified in their field operations. In addition to the number of Covid-19 cases around the world, the organization has increased its efforts to protect its employees and ensure secure and efficient operations. The instituted ways include: The organization is bringing its disaster and emergency response strategies into effect, with staff in PNG and Sydney closely handling and tracking the situation. PNG field sites are continuing to follow precautionary procedures placed in effect last year, which included redeploying non-essential personnel, limiting access and transport to field areas, and putting in place stringent preventative measures and quarantine zones; Imposing further RISK Reduction Steps, such as acquiring further monitoring facilities and expanding the quarantine duration for staff and contractors heading to the field; Reducing the Port Moresby office's workforce to a core community of medical, defence, and facilities workers, with regular checking of office employees; and, Procurement and distribution of nearly 500,000 pieces of personal security equipment to the National Government. Oil Search managing director Dr Keiran Wulff said, “The Covid-19 is a growing threat to the people of Papua New Guinea. “We are doing everything to ensure that our employees can continue to work safely, and to support their families as they do so.”
PNG Business News - March 31, 2021
Oil Search Environmental Management Certified as ISO 14001 Compliant
Oil Search continues to place constructive environmental conservation at the forefront of its activities. To that end, it maintains an efficient environmental protection scheme that complies with the ISO 14001 global standard's specifications. The Company is dedicated to preserving and reducing environmental impact in the communities. Oil Search's oil and gas facilities are located in some of the world's most isolated and environmentally diverse locations. It is critical that its infrastructure and management processes are equipped to handle the threats that its operations pose to the natural environment. Leon Buskens, Oil Search Country Manager said, “This is an outstanding result for Oil Search. The ISO 14001 recertification provides assurance to our shareholders and other stakeholders of our commitment to safe and environmentally responsible operations.” Over the course of five days, an analysis of the Company's Environment Management System (EMS) was performed through the Oil Search PNG Business Unit (BU). The audit looked into Oil Search's environmental inspection results, EMS training logs, and relevant contracts that included clauses requiring vendors to follow the company's environmental policies and procedures. The organization first obtained ISO 14001 certification in 2009 and has retained it for the last ten years. Oil Search is committed to recognizing and mitigating the detrimental effects its activities can have on workers and contractor personnel, local community residents, and the ecosystem as a responsible operator, as well as defining opportunities for quality development and optimizing productive business operations. Oil Search's contributions to water, pollution, biodiversity, land use, food care, education and security, and carbon mitigation are outlined in concrete strategies for Health, Welfare, Environment and Security, Social Responsibility, and Climate Change policies. The company takes a cautious approach to address possibly harmful environmental and social effects on the broader economy and surrounding climate. This entails frequent consultation with communities on how the company's activities can affect them, as well as ensuring that their property, culture, wealth, and rights are safeguarded. Oil Search has set 2021 Key Success Indicators for waste management and greenhouse gas emissions reduction as part of its ongoing pledge to good environmental performance. This involves reducing onsite waste disposal and introducing greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction measures that lead to a GHG level reduction of more than 30% for all managed assets by 2030.
PNG Business News - May 31, 2021
Oil Search Seeking Beneficial Outcome with PPL for 40MW PNG Biomass and Solar Farm
Oil Search confirms that the Company received a letter from PNG Power Limited (PPL) that could significantly impact the PNG Biomass Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) which was signed between both companies in December 2015. The Company has analysed the implications of the letter’s unforeseen ‘notice of termination’ and is currently engaging with all key stakeholders including Markham landowners and development partners to assess the potential impact of a cancelled PPA. The PNG Biomass project is aligned with the PNG Government’s ambition to diversify the country’s energy mix and complement the drive to create jobs and long-term opportunities for the people of PNG. The project will provide more than 500 direct jobs and stimulate many more across industries in the region. It also has the potential to make PNG a leader in renewable energy and enhance the country’s reputation globally. “For the power sector and the people of our country, it is important that we find a way forward to bring the project’s lowcost reliable energy onto the Ramu Grid. We intend to work with PPL to find a resolution to move forward together. We are ready to build the power plant and solar farm. We have met all obligations in the PPA under our control in order to reach Financial Close and we have strong funding support from international agencies who recognise the social benefits of this project. We have a dedicated team ready to work with PPL to support them to meet their obligations. We are ready to be part of the power solution and the energy mix and help the country transition to 100% renewable by 2050,” said Leon Buskens, Oil Search Country Manager. PNG Biomass has enormous energy benefits for PNG. It will provide the Ramu grid with up to 40MW of renewable, clean, affordable and reliable energy, from biomass power generation and a solar farm. The project will help stabilise the Ramu Grid and reduce blackouts in Lae. In 2018, Oil Search lowered the project’s power price significantly at the request of PPL. Ever since, the Company has continued to work closely with all stakeholders, including lenders, grant funders and contractors, to ensure an extremely competitive levelised cost of power that will result in material savings to PPL. In the process, Oil Search has attracted grants from the international community to the benefit of PPL worth over USD40 million (K140 million). “This is a compelling project for reliable power generation and creates large financial savings for PPL. Our PNG Biomass project is an excellent example of sustainable development, attracting widespread interest and admiration from the international community. PNG Biomass is truly a world-class sustainable tree farming and energy operation. This is an outstanding opportunity for PNG to showcase what it can do on the global stage,” adds Mr Buskens. The local inclusive economic growth that can be generated with PNG Biomass is substantial. PNG Biomass has already invested K18 million into the communities in the Markham Valley in the form of land rentals, employment, labour, contracts, sponsorships and much more. Mutual trust and confidence with the landowners have been built over more than a decade. The outcome of this partnership is a leading-edge precision tree farming operation and a world class nursery employing state of the art monitoring, measurement and testing. A comprehensive baselined environmental management plan has been developed across all aspects including air and water quality, soils data as well as individual tree growth, leaf analysis and GPS area mapping. The automated seedling production system produces a consistent supply of high-quality fibre cell seedlings and is one of only a handful of such systems worldwide. Specialised planting techniques are employed for deeper soil cultivation, resulting in minimal soil erosion and disturbance. “Hundreds of local communities, including many women and youth, are provided opportunities through our PNG Biomass project. Out of the 500 direct jobs we are creating, there are already 300 landowners and locals working. They are planting over 20 million trees on 16,000 hectares of low production grass land,” said Mr Buskens. Oil Search confirms that the Company is committed to work with the PNG Government to provide sustainable opportunities that directly align with the government’s national development priorities in electrification, energy mix diversification, renewable energy, climate action under the Paris Agreement, reforestation, and sustainable inclusive economic growth. “We have designed this project to be part of powering PNG and empowering our rural communities. We remain optimistic and shovel-ready to deliver,” concludes Mr Buskens.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Australia buys Digicel, PNG’s mobile monopoly
Photo credit: Devpolicy by Stephen Howes Yesterday, Telstra announced that it was buying Digicel Pacific. Telstra itself is only paying $270 million, and the Australian government $1.33 billion. Yet, Telstra is obtaining 100% ownership. The deal is certainly an attractive one for Telstra. But does it make sense for Australia, and for the Pacific? Digicel has had a transformational impact in the Pacific, but now has too much market power. As the Telstra release explains, it holds the dominant position in all the Pacific countries in which it operates, except for Fiji, where it is in second place. In Papua New Guinea, which I know best, and which is by far Digicel's biggest market, the company has a 92% share of the mobile phone market. That makes Digicel effectively a monopoly in PNG. And that is why it is so profitable: like any monopolist, it exploits its market power. Australian and PNG researchers have been tracking mobile internet prices in PNG since Australia gifted it a new underwater cable . Their conclusion is that since the completion of that cable in December 2019 to today there has been no decrease in mobile internet prices. The reason is simple: the lack of retail competition. Michelle Nayahamui Rooney, Martin Davies and I last year exposed Digicel PNG’s predatory loan scheme. Digicel lends phone credit to its customers. They pay it back when they next top up. Our estimate is that Digicel made a 17% return from such loans every week, which is equivalent to an unbelievable 351200% a year. Is this really the way in which Australia want to engages in the Pacific – owning an enterprise that keeps prices high for consumers, and rips them off when they are desperate to make a call? Any monopolist is necessarily engaged in a battle between the consumer and their profits. At some point, Telstra will end up going toe-to-toe with the PNG telecom regulator, NICTA, as Digicel has done several times. It’s going to be awkward for both Telstra and the Australian government. Many will welcome the investment as a sign of Australian commitment to the Pacific. However, if we want to invest in the telecom sector in the Pacific, we should be backing alternatives to Digicel, to push prices down and improve services, not buying out the dominant player. Amalgamated Telecom Holdings based in Fiji is the Pacific’s second biggest telecom provider. It is currently planning to enter the PNG mobile market with support from the Asian Development Bank. This is the sort of investment we should be financing. That Australia has bought Digicel shows the extent to which the Pacific is now viewed through a China lens. That’s unfortunate. China is a massive economic power. Its companies will have increasing stakes in economies around the world. That is a fact we have to accept. The Australian government also needs to decide if its only goal is to counter China or if it is still seeks to promote Pacific development. When I was AusAID's Chief Economist, Digicel was the new kid on the block in the Pacific, and it was successfully challenging state-owned telcos that until then had been dominant. In 2006, in Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's flagship Pacific 2020 report, we wrote glowingly about the competition that various Pacific countries had recently started allowing in the mobile phone sector. Our analysis was right then, and remains relevant today. Yet here we are, in 2021, doing the opposite: rather than supporting greater competition in the telecom sector, subsidising the purchase of the incumbent monopolist. The decision to buy Digicel Pacific should be reversed. If it is too late for that, the Australian government should at least – in return for all its cheap and risk-reducing finance – oblige Telstra to operate Digicel for the benefit of the people of the Pacific rather than solely for its shareholders through an agreement that makes it clear that the Australian company is not only expected to return the cheap loan it has been given, but also reduce prices, and end rip-offs. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Centre at The Australian National University. Stephen Howes is the Director of the Development Policy Centre and a Professor of Economics at the Crawford School.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Taureka Replaced As Managing Director
Isikeli Taureka's position as managing-director (MD) of Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH) was terminated by the National Executive Council (NEC) recently. Professor David Kavanamur has been appointed as interim MD until a permanent appointment is made, and Moses Maladina, the current chairman of PNG Power Ltd, has been named as acting chairman. Taureka was removed after 20 months, according to Prime Minister James Marape, due to poor performance by KCH and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and missed national project deadlines. “The reforms of the SOEs were endorsed by the Government in October 2019,” he said “We see it as the most-significant reform programme to be undertaken by any Government since the corporatisation of the state utilities and the creation of the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), now KCH. “Building governance and accountability must go hand in hand with successful project execution. These are viable projects that can fundamentally change the accessibility and affordability of services and benefit the welfare of our people. “Extensive unexplained delays to major projects by KCH and SOEs are not acceptable. The Government understands that SOE issues cannot be immediately resolved as they take time. “That is why the NEC provided well over a year for KCH to work with SOEs to support the development and execution of strategies. We had hoped more would have been achieved during Taureka’s tenure. We regret to take the difficult step of severing the MD’s appointment. However, the NEC felt it had to be done. “The Telikom merger and partial privatisation with majority ownership and board control to be passed onto the super funds, for example, is one major issue the Government has been pushing since 2019 when we took office. “The merger of Water PNG and Eda Ranu is another matter that has been outstanding and not yet resolved. This merger is to take on a subsidiary structure where 20 percent of Eda Ranu is to be owned by Koiari landowners and 10 per cent each by Central Province and the National Capital District. “This decision was taken in 2019 but has not been implemented to date. “As for PNG Power and its continuous performance issues, these have been ongoing and evident. “These are badly-needed reforms within the SOEs and responsive policies have been launched by the Government, yet, very little or no progress have been made. “Out of respect to Taureka as a leading Papua New Guinea son, I had reached out to him for a meeting but there was no response forthcoming. Hence, the announcement of this decision (termination),” he added. Those nominated to crucial positions, according to Marape, must grasp the larger picture and act quickly to fulfill the government's goals.“For others in key leadership roles, whether as chair, members of boards, departments or agency heads, you are not here to pass the time or warm seats. Everyone must step up. “The Prime Minister’s Department is working to take stock of work done. So, if you feel you have not met your key performance indicators, I suggest you start thinking about resigning before the NEC asks you to leave.” According to Marape, Kavanamur had previously served as the chairman of KCH and had a thorough awareness of the organization's issues as well as the government's goals. Reference: The National (22 October 2021). “Cabinet Axes Taureka”.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Digicel Pacific to be Acquired by Telstra
Telstra has announced that it will buy Digicel Pacific for $US1.6 billion, plus up to an additional US$250 million based on business performance over the next three years, subject to government and regulatory approvals. In its six South Pacific markets – Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu – Telstra, Australia's leading telecommunications and technology company, will continue to invest in and operate the business under the Digicel brand name. Telstra International CEO Oliver Camplin-Warner said the agreement will allow Telstra to expand on Digicel Pacific's regional leadership and increase mobile connectivity in Papua New Guinea. “Denis O’Brien and the Digicel team have built a phenomenal business that’s centred on providing exceptional customer service, the best coverage and leading digital experiences. Telstra will add to these strengths and the team’s local knowledge with our more than one hundred years’ experience connecting the vast expanses of Australia to continue delivering great experiences for Digicel’s customers across the Pacific.” “We have 19.5 million retail mobile customers in Australia and our 4G network is the largest and most reliable in country. It covers some of the remotest parts of Australia – from the coast, to the outback and the Torres Strait Islands, just off the coast of Papua New Guinea. And we’re in the process of building Australia’s largest 5G network that now stretches to more than 240 towns and 75 per cent of the population,” Camplin-Warner said. There will be no employment losses in the region as a result of the transaction, and the present Digicel Pacific team will continue to manage the company on a day-to-day basis. Denis O'Brien, the current owner of Digicel, will continue on the Board of Directors. “We will invest our know-how and capital to further expand coverage and over time bring the benefits of 5G to Papua New Guinea. But we’ll retain the same Digicel brand the people of PNG know and love today with the same team and services they have come to rely on,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. The purchase, according to Camplin-Warner, is in line with Telstra International's expansion plan, which now comprises operations in 20 countries outside of Australia and thousands of clients, including businesses, governments, and some of the world's largest technology firms. “Beyond Australia Telstra also has the most extensive subsea telecommunications cable network in the Asia Pacific. And we’re one of the biggest providers of voice and data services connecting the South Pacific to the rest of the world through our Southern Cross cable.” “Network traffic is growing faster than at any other period of time and digital technology is changing our world. We are at the centre of this, and so is Digicel Pacific. We are committed to delivering the best technology on the best network for PNG,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. The people and businesses of PNG will benefit from Telstra's experience rolling out a world-class 5G network and connecting diverse geographies, according to Colin Stone, CEO of Digicel Papua New Guinea. “Telstra’s network innovation has played a critical part in Australia being ranked first in the global Mobile Connectivity Index which assesses networks based on performance, affordability and availability. We look forward to working with Oliver and the Telstra team,” Mr Stone said. The two firms' ideals, according to Camplin-Warner, were likewise matched. “Digicel Pacific and Telstra are both committed to building a connected future so everyone can thrive and this includes supporting some of the most vulnerable in our communities.” “Digicel Pacific has taken community development to the next level through the Digicel Foundation’s investment in health, education and community-based programs. We look forward to continuing this work, just as we do today with the Telstra Foundation and its commitment to using technology to support young people and help to reduce the digital divide.” “We will also bring a commitment to addressing climate change to help drive better environmental outcomes for the people of PNG,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. Despite the fact that the transaction is funded by the Australian government, Telstra will remain the only owner and operator of the company. Reference: Loop (October 25, 2021). “Australia’s biggest telecommunications company to acquire Digicel Pacific”.