After a one-year delay, Total aims to make a final investment decision on the proposed two-train 5.6 million mt/year volume Papua LNG project in Papua New Guinea in 2023.
Papua LNG, which will use gas from the Elk and Antelope gas fields, will begin front-end engineering and design (FEED) in early 2022, according to Total.
"I confirm that this project is ranking very high in Total's portfolio given its proximity to growing Asian LNG markets and we will dedicate all necessary resources," Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in a statement.
The announcement was made following a meeting in Paris with a delegation from Papua New Guinea headed by Deputy Prime Minister Samuel Basil.
"After a year of delay because of COVID-19, the government of Papua New Guinea and Total are pleased to announce the remobilization of the project teams and of other required resources," Total said. "The objective is to launch the FEED early 2022 and to prepare for final investment decision in 2023.”
The statement comes after the Papua LNG gas agreement was signed and reconfirmed in 2019, as well as the signing of a fiscal stabilization agreement and the award of a license extension in February of this year.
Basil said that the government has pledged "absolute support" for the initiative. "I am pleased with the outcome of this meeting with clear implementation plans," he said.
The Total-operated Elk and Antelope fields have been thoroughly appraised, and gas will be delivered via a 320-kilometre pipeline to the Caution Bay site, which is currently home to an ExxonMobil-operated PNG LNG facility with a capacity of 8.3 million mt/year.
The Papua LNG plant, according to Total, will be combined with the current PNG LNG facilities in Caution Bay.
Total controls the Elk and Antelope fields and, with a 31.1 per cent stake in the PRL-15 permit, is the biggest shareholder, alongside partners ExxonMobil (28.7%) and Oil Search (17.7 per cent). The government of Papua New Guinea has a 22.5 per cent back-in right.
To further save billions of dollars, Total and its partners ExxonMobil Corp and Oil Search Ltd agreed to expand Papua LNG in combination with an extension of Exxon's PNG LNG plant in a $13 billion project adding three additional development units at the PNG LNG plant.
However, Exxon has refused to agree to terms sought by the Papua New Guinea government for the P'nyang gas production, which was supposed to help fuel the expansion, as Prime Minister James Marape pressed for greater benefits for the region.
Instead, Total's Papua LNG project will proceed with the construction of two new processing units at the PNG LNG site, which will be fed by the Elk Antelope gas fields, said Marape in February.