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ROGER KEWA AVINAGA: 5 May 1970 - 16 May 2021

by PNG Business News - May 21, 2021

Roger Kewa Avinaga died Sunday 16th May 2021 just ten days after the passing away of his beloved wife - Priscilla Nase Avinaga. By any measure, this was a very sad and tragic occurrence for the Avinaga family, but we hope that Roger and Priscilla will rest in peace together.

Roger was born at Keakasa Village, Okapa in the Eastern Highlands Province, a mountainous area within the Highlands of Papua New Guinea north of the Gulf Province. After completion of his secondary education, Roger graduated with honours in International Relations from the University of Papua New Guinea, and subsequently completed a Master’s (LLM) in Petroleum Finance and Taxation at the University of Dundee, Scotland,  United Kingdom in 2003.

Roger was a colleague and one of whom I was proud.  I first met him in 1998 when he joined the newly-formed Dept. of Petroleum and Energy, when petroleum functions were split from mining.  He was a young Petroleum Economics Analyst in the Petroleum Division, the core of the new Department. I had just stepped down from being the Director of the Division and had started work as an Adviser to my successor-Director funded by the World Bank. Roger worked in what we loosely called the policy area where the overall deal between the petroleum industry and government is formulated, and if managed well, constantly modified to optimise the outcomes for the Nation. 

He ably took to his duties as I later reflect - always with a cheer.  It was with that very same cheer that I last saw him in the Waterfront supermarket in Port Moresby several weeks ago. We had a long discussion on the petroleum policies for PNG with me grumbling about the current volatility and uncertainty of petroleum policy after decades of sound stability.  As if often the case, our discussions become all the more intense, when I threw the matter of domestic utilisation of oil and gas into the dialogue, saying that we should be more proactive in encouraging the domestic use of our oil and gas in PNG for our development needs than always exporting it to other Nations. Roger patiently listened to my points as only a professional colleague could and would, and smiled: he shared with me, a passion to get the very best out of the petroleum industry of PNG and for Government to manage and regulated the companies firmly and fairly, and with competence.

In recent times, he had like me worked for the World Bank as a consultant from time to time in their Port Moresby office engaged in the economic analysis of petroleum policy options. More lately, he had gathered some fame for writing voluminous and excellently-researched articles on petroleum issues and policy for the online and print magazine - PNG Business News. After all it, was Roger who had diligently compiled the Petroleum Policy Handbook of the Government in 2005; he was the reference point and one of very few technocrats who really understood the swath, array and complex interaction of the economic and fiscal terms of petroleum exploration, development and production well. 

The distinguishing feature of Roger was his ability to write and write well, and that comes only with practice as one writes more and more.  He had a distinguished record of writing many speeches whilst in the Dept of Petroleum and Energy and travelled widely to deliver some of his own speeches in the days when PNG was seeking investment in the first large-scale development of natural gas. He was part of the campaign and advertisement to the world in the early 2000s that PNG as open for business and with more than ten-years of uninterrupted oil production that PNG was ready to receive investment in the development of it substantial gas reserves. 

Alas, Roger will be hard to replace; his knowledge of the PNG petroleum industry and its policy framework was intimate with over twenty-years of deep involvement in its formulation and workings. I admired how he was not afraid to take up to ten-pages in PNG Business News to get his message across, not that he was verbose or rambling, but that he truly desired his lay-readers to have a proper understanding of the workings of the petroleum industry for which he applied great patience to explain every nuance of the business.

Our most sincere condolences go to his family, and I am sure that he and his wife will be most sorely missed.

For the Nation, we have lost one of our most competent petroleum professionals who had so much more to do in his new role as a feature writer for PNG Business News on petroleum business, policy and economics.

May He Rest In Peace

Prepared by Michael McWalter, OL, CS, former Director and Adviser, Petroleum Division, Dept of Petroleum and Energy



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Roger Kewa Avinaga, 51

ROGER KEWA AVINAGA, who supplied many valuable insights on Papua New Guinea’s resources industry as the main columnist for PNG Business News since our first issue, passed away 15 May 2021 at Port Moresby General Hospital. He had just turned 51. Born 5 May 1970 in Keakasa Village, Okapa in the Eastern Highlands, Roger was still in mourning for his wife Priscilla Nase Avinaga, who had passed away just 10 days prior. His family said Roger was ill for a short while before his passing. The haus krai program for Priscilla was still in progress when the Avinaga family lost Roger. They have now organized a combined haus krai at Rogen Wato Avinaga’s residence at Kevaru Place, Angau Drive in Boroko. The program will officially start at 1 p.m. on 19 May 2021, as the family urged everyone to observe COVID-19 protocols. Roger was an accomplished corporate and government executive and board director, having worked in the oil, gas, mining and energy sectors for over 20 years.  He worked for The World Bank Group as a Resource Economist/Modeller, developing his in-depth knowledge, understanding, and experience of business/commercial environment, financing, project procurement and management, economic/financial modelling, fiscal and regulatory regimes. He acquired these skills through dealing with oil/mining companies, investors, banks/lenders, multilateral institutions, governments and key stakeholders, in exploring new business opportunities, creating partnerships, joint ventures, farm-out, project approval process and initiation of major resource projects. Roger was highly skilled in developing investment strategies, business plans and strategies, financing proposals, economic/financial modelling and assessment of projects, negotiating project agreements/contracts, managing risks, and writing government policies. He had demonstrable understanding of different segments of the industries from the upstream exploration and development, midstream, and downstream sector. Roger began his career with the PNG Department of Petroleum and Energy as Senior Petroleum Economist, where he worked his way to become Assistant Director-Petroleum Policy and Acting Director Petroleum Division. After serving 12 years, he left to join state-owned company Petromin PNG Holdings in 2008 as Manager for Commercial and Strategic Planning, where he was responsible for establishing the commercial and business development division. At Petromin, Roger also held several key positions, including Head of Commercial, New Ventures and Business Development. Roger earned his Masters of Law (LLM) in Petroleum Finance and Taxation from the University of Dundee in the United Kingdom in 2003. He graduated Bachelor of Honours (International Relations), Second Class, Upper Level at the University of PNG in 1996, and finished his Bachelor of Arts at University of PNG in 1993. PNG Business News deeply mourns Roger’s passing. We extend our condolences to his bereaved family and request our readers to pray for strength and comfort for the Avinagas during this time. For more information, please call Frexie Maneh at 74540145 or Kevu Sevendi at 74888384.


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