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Roger Kewa Avinaga, 51
by PNG Business News - May 18, 2021
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.
PNG Business News - May 21, 2021
ROGER KEWA AVINAGA: 5 May 1970 - 16 May 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
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”.