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Prime Minister says no regime change to happen without consultation with industry
by PNG Business News - June 11, 2021
Photo Credit: PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum - Prime Minister James Marape, presenting his closing remarks
Prime Minister James Marape has said that there will be no change in the benefit sharing regimes currently being used in the mining and petroleum sectors, without extensive consultation with all players in the resources sector.
Prime Minister Marape delayed his planned meeting in Porgera toward the end of last week to be present at the Papua New Guinea Chamber of Mines and Petroleum’s first Webinar Event for the year.
He delivered the keynote address with the reassurance of the government’s recognition that the mining and petroleum sector remains the number one economic sector in the country.
“On record, the mining and petroleum sector remains our number one economic sector in our country, and that is acknowledged, and will remain so, and our government will do everything possible to ensure that the sector is not harmed.”
On the back of industry having to cope with major uncertainty over proposed changes to the Organic Law on Ownership of Minerals and Hydrocarbons, and the introduction of a fiscal regime change for the sector for the past 12 months, Prime Minister Marape also reassured the sector, that all stakeholders would be consulted.
“Whether it’s a production sharing regime or a hybrid between production sharing and existing regimes, I think there is a view that I take from these presentations thus far that the signal we are giving is not absolutely clear, and so I will take the month of June to ensure that the clarity is made to the mining and petroleum sector with respect to the direction we are trying to go into but for this occasion and a taker right now let me inform every one, regime change is not taking place as yet, the intention is there but whatever form it will take place, as I said earlier, 2025 is an important benchmark date,” the prime minister said, after participating in the events three key presentations.
PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Council Member, John Chambers of Santos, presented discussions on the true value of the mining and petroleum sector.
“According to the World Bank, PNG is in the ‘Top Ten’ of most Resource Industry-dependent economies in the world. We cannot underestimate the importance of the resource sector to the PNG economy.
“Continued investment in resources, plus diversification of the economy, need to occur in parallel,” Mr. Chambers said, while highlighting that financial institutions like ANZ have estimated that the resource sector’s total contribution to GDP 1.3 times its direct contribution to GDP.
Mr. Chambers explained that fiscal regimes need to balance state and landowners’ interests with investment risks and returns. He stressed that higher taxed regimes, would result in no exploration or projects being sanctioned; that resource sector stability was important in the areas of policy and legislation; and that the current tax royalty system used in PNG is the only regime in the world, which provides landowners with a share of cashflows from resource projects.
The two other main presentations were from global industry research and analysis organisations, Wood Mackenzie, who explained that different fiscal system designs can be employed to deliver a ‘fair share of returns’ while stressing the point that governments and oil and gas companies are usually closely aligned in their objectives on return on investment.
MineHutte UK focused on the need for countries to achieve a balanced legal framework, and that reform efforts built around the introduction of Production Sharing Arrangements (PSAs) would not be viewed as balanced, and would hinder, rather than help a country’s mineral sector.
MineHutte presented world examples of countries who had tried using PSAs in their mining sectors, and who had all, eventually reverted to their previous regimes, because of the negative impacts they experienced.
Prime Minister Marape, in responding to the presentations, said he would ensure that there is stronger collaboration with industry on any and all proposed reforms.”
“I would like to encourage investors who are tuning in from across the world, in these times of COVID19 sensitivities, we have been, and are still open for business. I will bring further clarity to the reforms we have planned, and with consultation with the mining and petroleum sector in the next month or two.
“Toward the end of June or July, the industry will know with clarity, what the government wants for the sector. It does not dilute the fact that PNG remains a very robust place of investment, and we are open for business.”
Chamber Vice President Leon Buskens was sincere in his closing remarks, in recognizing the importance Prime Minister Marape had given to the event.
“Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your opening remarks, and for your closing remarks. We have listened, and heard loud and clear the assurances you have given the industry to work together, and importantly, you mentioned the deep consultation process.
“We are all on the same page, and the strategic intent of the Chamber is to ‘create understanding of the importance of the industry, and to build local expertise, to attract investment, and to empower Papua New Guinea to capture sustained, nation-building benefit from our natural resources’.
PNG Business News - May 03, 2021
Chamber Calls On Government to Pay Its Dues
The Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked the government to pay over K100 million in unpaid dues to its members in order to help them develop their businesses. Stacey O'Nea, the Chamber's chief executive officer, stated that they are not after free handouts or a stimulus budget for companies; rather, they want what is owed to them to be compensated so that their businesses can be stimulated. “Many of our members are starting to scale down and are letting go of their employees due to the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy, and businesses are unable to continue to save jobs in the current prolonged COVID-19 threat environment,” she said. “The sensitive issue of job loss also has an impact on livelihoods in PNG’s extended family system and has a direct spillover effect on social and security issues. “Coupled with ongoing concerns on revenue challenges, subsequent profit decline, depreciating kina, forex availability, increased fuel and security costs and COVID-19 restrictions are a myriad of serious challenges shared across our businesses and industries.” O'Nea stated that the chamber is in talks with relevant authorities over receiving government compensation owed to its members. “While we are thankful for the Government’s efforts this year towards settling a number of urgent arrears for rentals, goods and services, we urge continuity of payments for contracts that have satisfied the vetting process, as they will help act as a stimulus to sustain operations in these times for our businesses and industries,” she said. Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Belden Namah has said that the economy is in free fall and has urged the government to ease controls on enterprises and social events as soon as possible while maintaining the new standard. Lockdowns, he claimed, are killing the economy by throwing workers out of jobs and forcing companies to close.
PNG Business News - May 04, 2021
Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Appoint Kassman as President
The PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum has appointed Richard Kassman as its current president. Kassman, who has served as the chamber's vice president for the past three years, succeeds Gerea Aopi, who began his career in the industry in 1991. Following the announcement, Kassman praised the outgoing president, Aopi, for his extensive work and guidance. “My first task as president-elect is to thank outgoing president Gerea Aopi. A colossus of a man whose contribution to our industry and indeed his beloved Papua New Guinea is unrivalled. “Gerea always guided the discourse ensuring being cognizant with national interests, when the chamber represented its diverse membership and promoted the industry. He served with class and distinction. He was measured, thoughtful and compassionate, and when required, frank and direct. Hallmarks of a courageous servant leader,” Kassman said. In his final remarks, Aopi put the industry's attempts to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic into perspective. “Amidst the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the country last year, the chamber has been active in discussing legislation and policy that affects our industry. “Constant dialogue and discussion amongst council members representing mining and petroleum have been at the core of our engagement in the national and political space,” he said. Kassman, who works for Total E&P PNG Limited as the Public Affairs and External Communications Head, spoke about the mining and petroleum sector's future as well as the chamber's work. “The chamber plays a crucial role in providing discourse on major national issues. And it represents members who are always ready to step in to assist the national leadership in times of national calamity,” he said. The Chamber of Mines and Petroleum is PNG's apex body for the mining and petroleum industries, with a diverse membership that spans both the mineral and industry sectors. It comprises the majority of PNG's productive mining and petroleum firms.
PNG Business News - May 18, 2021
PNGEITI Congratulates Richard Kassman as New Industry Chamber President
Richard Kassman was recently named President of the Papua New Guinea Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, and the PNG Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (PNGEITI) congratulated him. He recently took over for Gerea Aopi, who had served in the role admirably. Richard Kassman is the Director of Corporate Affairs, Total E&P PNG Limited, and was vice president of the Chamber at the time of his appointment. He is an active member of the PNGEITI Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) and was vice president of the Chamber at the time of his appointment. Kassman is a member of the PNGEITI MSG, which oversees the Global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) implementation in Papua New Guinea. “As we all know Kassman is a dedicated professional with active engagement in both the Government and private sector in Papua New Guinea with deep commitment within those various roles he plays,” PNGEITI Head of National Secretariat Lucas Alkan said. “His insights and contributions to the advancement of EITI reporting in this country have resonated with great value and the PNGEITI MSG is privileged to have him on board. “At this juncture, we acknowledge his invaluable commitment and contribution over the years since PNG commenced implementing the EITI 7 years ago. Now as elected President of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, we look forward to a heightened working relation with regards to the role that the industry plays as the key stakeholder in implementing and maintaining PNG’s position as an EITI affiliated member country.” Kassman's expertise, according to Alkan, will significantly enhance the work of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum in representing the EITI in PNG, as well as giving the cause more visibility by building on the momentum of the campaign, which has generated many financial year reports from the extractive sector.
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”.