MRA’s Recent Study on Geothermal Energy and its Potential
by Marcelle P. Villegas - July 15, 2021
Image: Lihir geothermal model (Source: Newcrest Mining Limited 
A recent study by Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) explores the potential of geothermal energy as a possible source of sustainable energy for Papua New Guinea.
The Geological Survey Division, Mineral Resources Authority published “Geothermal Energy Resources of Papua New Guinea: Country Update” -- a study done by Maxine M. Lahan, Gener Villafuerte and Lynell Stevens. This study points out the geothermal energy is a good prospect as a potential source of energy in PNG. According to the researchers, “This paper aims to provide an overview of the preliminary geothermal studies initiated and conducted by the Mineral Resources Authority’s Geological Survey Division since 2009 including recent government policy initiatives.” 
Like any energy project, each country has its set of hurdles and challenges. For geothermal energy in Papua New Guinea, the study mentioned that the development of geothermal energy here is somehow hindered by lack of policy and further exploratory work. The study aims to identify the pervading problems and the possible solutions for the successful development of geothermal energy utilisation.
Alexander Richter from the Think Geoenergy website wrote on his article, ““Lack of policy and additional exploratory work required hampers potential geothermal investments in Papua New Guinea.” 
He notes that this study released by the Mineral Resources Authority last 23 February 2021 “aims to bring the topic of geothermal energy back on the table in the country.” 
The idea of developing geothermal energy is not a new concept. There was early historical research on potential geothermal resources that were done in the 1960s until the 1970s, and some recent ones by MRA in 2009 until 2016.
The study reported that currently, there are 55 known, identified and recorded geothermal sites. However, only seven regions have been mapped and sampled. Where are they located? “The prospects identified are Talasea along the Willaumez Peninsula on New Britain Island, Kasiloli prospect at the active volcano of Pago on New Britain Island, the Silanga propsect also at the Pago Volcano on New Britain Island. Other prospects are Deidei on Fergusson Island, part of the D’Entrecasteaux Islands in Milne Bay Province, Rabaul at the active Tavurvur volcano and some other smaller prospects.” 
As mentioned earlier, the study mentioned that geothermal energy has great potential in providing alternative energy source for the country. Lihir Island has an operating geothermal power plant with notable high-temperature and permeability options. 
Creating the power plant was done in three stages / phases that started with a 6 MW backpressure plant in 2001. This was proceeded by a 30 MW expansion with a single flash plant in 2005. Finally in 2007, it had an additional 20 MW-Single Flash plant.
There are, however, only 9 MW of the 30 MW that is operating. And only 2 MW of the 20 MW plant are operating as well. This report was given by the Papua New Guinea country update for the World Geothermal Congress 2020+1 in Reykjavik, Iceland last April 2021.
Moreover, Richter noted in his article that there was increased interest in the geothermal energy in 2016, but “things have been pretty much idle since then.”
He wrote, “In 2016 and again in 2020, the lack of policy for geothermal development was described as a key hurdle for the utilization of geothermal in PNG. While a new regulatory and supervision scheme seems to be set up for renewable energy development in PNG, there are not concrete plans for a boost for geothermal energy development. To develop the geothermal resources of PNG, “more exploratory work is required to collect additional information on the prospects already identified by MRA and others.”
Now, let us look deeper into the study. The initial discussion first introduced the geological features of Papua New Guinea.
“Papua New Guinea is characterized by quaternary volcanic islands with potentially low to high-temperature geothermal resources that are yet to be systematically investigated for development and utilization,” according the study.
A 50MW geothermal power plant on Lihir Island was installed. This is owned and operated by Newcrest Mining Limited within its gold mining lease.
It was observed that the research and development of geothermal energy and other renewable energy sources has been hindered by lack of political will and support for the development of policies and legal frameworks and finance that will accelerate the development of geothermal power plants. This goes the same for the development of other renewable energy resources. 
The study enumerates that PNG has abundant untapped renewable energy resources like hydro, geothermal, biomass, solar, wind, and tidal wave. However, due to the country’s cultural diversity, land tenure system, rugged terrain and largely rural popular, developing these sources of renewable energy is difficult and challenging.
At the moment, hydro is the primary source of energy and provides just half of 797MW total electricity generation capacity. One-third of energy comes from diesel generators. Other energy sources like gas, geothermal and biogas generation “represent most of the balance with the bulk of this energy used for mining.” 
Here are more key points from the study:
- Diesel is dominant in off-grid applications.
- The total electricity output in 2015 was 4324 GWh, comprising hydro-electric (23%), petroleum products (56%), natural gas (11%), and geothermal (10%) (APEC Energy Outlook, 2019).
- The total installed capacity estimates for 2016 was 797MW sourced from hydropower (432 MW), thermal (223), gas (85MW), geothermal (50MW) and biogas (7MW) according to the APEC Energy Outlook (2019).
- The gross production from the geothermal power plant on Lihir Island is currently 96 GWh/yr from 11 MWe generation capacity.
- About half of the country’s total installed capacity is from the private sector mainly for the mining sector.
- The rest serves businesses and about 13% of the total population that live in Port Moresby and other urban centers in the country.
- The majority rural-based citizens (87%) including urban settlements do not have access to electricity and continue to rely on traditional wood burning for cooking.
- Portable off-grid solar energy is reaching many rural homes and urban settlements these days for lighting and phone charging and is having positive impacts on peoples’ lives (APEC Energy Outlook, 2019).
More on the geological background of PNG, it has a unique geology with rich amounts of mineral resources and geothermal potential. The study notes that this is because PNG is located on the “Pacific Ring of Fire”. PNG is located on an active tectonic region or a collision zone between the ff. plates:
- north-ward moving Indo-Australian plate
- west-northwest moving Pacific plate
- eastward moving Caroline plate.
Lihir Mine and the geothermal steam field. The power plant is located at the bottom left corner of the photograph where the built up infrastructure area. 
“The geothermal resource policy is yet to be passed in Parliament; however, the government has recently approved the National Energy Policy (2017-2027) which lays out the plan for the establishment of the new National Energy Authority and Energy Regulatory Commission which will be mandated to administer and regulate the energy industry. This policy provides for the development of various policies for geothermal and other renewable energy sources to develop sustainable renewable energy.” 
Looking at the future development and installation, what can we expect in the future? The study reveals that currently there is no plan for new geothermal power plant installations in the next 5 to 10 years. The study suggests that more exploratory work is required at this stage to collect more information on the prospects identified by MRA and others. 
However, there is still hope in the future, perhaps with the help of the National Energy Policy 2017-2027. “The recent policy initiative through the National Energy Policy 2017 – 2027 is a positive step towards the development of geothermal and other renewables as the new proposed National Energy Authority develops the policy and regulatory frameworks that would encourage geothermal exploration in the country and hopefully development.” 
 Lahan, Maxine M., Villafuerte, Gener, Stevens, Lynell. (April - Oct. 2021). Proceedings World Geothermal Congress 2020. "Geothermal Energy Resources of Papua New Guinea: Country Update". Retrieved from - https://pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/db/WGC/papers/WGC/2020/01028.pdf
 Richter, Alexander (24 Feb. 2021). Think Geoenergy Website. "Bringing geothermal back into the energy discussion in Papua New Guinea". Retrieved from - https://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/bringing-geothermal-back-into-the-energy-discussion-in-papua-new-guinea/
Courtesy of Lahan, Maxine M., Villafuerte, Gener, Stevens, Lynell. (April - Oct. 2021). Proceedings World Geothermal Congress 2020. "Geothermal Energy Resources of Papua New Guinea: Country Update". Retrieved from - https://pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/db/WGC/papers/WGC/2020/01028.pdf
PNG Business News - August 16, 2021
PNG Under Explored in Geothermal Energy
Photo Credit: Shuttershock According to William Duma, Minister of Public Enterprises and State Investment, Papua New Guinea is under-explored in terms of geothermal energy development. Duma was speaking at the signing of a geothermal deed of agreement between the state and Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), an Australian company. “Comparatively, Papua New Guinea is under-explored,” he said. “If a geothermal location is to be determined to be viable for commercialisation, then, of course, Fortescue will apply for all the necessary licenses required for each province in accordance with the applicable legislation which the company is aware of.” According to Duma, Fortescue Future Industries has discovered geothermal resources in numerous places around the country, with the potential to generate up to 10 gigawatts of power. West New Britain, he said, had a caldera (Mt Talawe) in Talasea; Milne Bay, with areas of interest on Fergusson, Goodenough, and Normanby islands; Northern, with Mt Lamington; Madang, with resources on Karkar, Long, and Manam islands; East Sepik, with the islands of Bam, Blup Blup, and Kairiru; and Morobe, with parts of Bulolo and Wau, the McAdam National Park and the islands of Siassi and Umboi. Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCHL) signed the agreement with FFI on behalf of the State. According to KCHL managing director Isikeli Taureka, the deal with Fortescue was to look at areas of interest in the country. Fortescue would next go out and perform more research to determine the capability of the geothermal sites that had been found, he added. Following the confirmation of viable sites, Taureka said the developer and the state would sign a project agreement outlining what each party would undertake to develop the resource and the advantages to stakeholders. He said that geothermal locations might be used to generate electricity, which would lead to more development such as roads and other infrastructure. “Our side is to make sure that all the Government laws and permits are complied with.” Reference: Mauludu, Shirley. The National (12 August 2021). “Focus on geothermal energy”.
Marcelle P. Villegas - October 04, 2021
Mapping out the potentials for geothermal energy
Volcanic eruption in Tavurvur volcano, Rabaul, New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea [Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue - www.ericlafforgue.com] "PNG through Mineral Resource Authority (MRA) has now embarked on undertaking geothermal exploration in the country with assistance from the World Bank and the Government of Iceland through training of its staff, as there is a need to diversity in its energy source and increase the energy needs of the country." (taken from "Geothermal Mapping in PNG" by Barney Orere, Post-Courier.com.ph) From a commentary article by Barney Orere, a list of opportunities and challenges were enumerated from Mining and Exploration Bulletin 2014 by the Mineral Resources Authority. The report details out the geothermal prospects as a potential source of sustainable energy in PNG. Investment opportunities were brought to light as a result of the 2018 APEC Summit where three countries have teamed up with the PNG Government and PNG Power Limited to lighting up 70% of PNG by 2030. One question that surfaced is about Deidel on Fergusson Bay Province. Being a geothermal prospect, will it offer any potential investments to have a positive impact on the country? For this, MRA conducted studies and investigations in the islands of New Guinea. Here are some keypoints: ~ The volcanic island of New Britain is the most prospective region for the development of geothermal energy resources in Papua New Guinea.  ~ The northern coastline from the Willaumez Peninsula in Talasea and West New BritaIn Province of the Gazelle Peninsula in Rabaul has scattered geothermal prospects. New Britain Island has several volcanoes which are dormant. The island has two active volcanoes, namely: Pago in Cape Hoskins are in West New Britain Province (WNBP) and the Rabaul (Tavurvur) volcano in the Gazelle Peninsula in East New Britain Province (ENBP). On the other aspects of the study, the main economic activity in West New Britain Province is based largely on oil palm industry. This is apart from other business activities in its capital, Kimble, plus in smaller towns in Hoskins and Bialla. How many people are dependent on this industry? Based on the population count in NRI Report 2010, Talasea District (in West New Britain Province) is around 128,800. For their livelihood, these people are directly and indirectly dependent on oil palm industry. Where do they get their electricity? Their province has four 400-6-KW diesel generators and two mini-hydro power plants supplied by PNG Power Limited. These are the main sources of electricity for this province. Additionally, their local oil palm plantations have their own energy sources in order to address the issue of insufficient electricity supply. This is their backup energy source as their solution for the frequent power outages. More on the geothermal study in Papua New Guinea, geoscientific information reports that WNBP has a few scattered geothermal prospects. "…previous reconnaissance geochemical survey undertaken in Talasea provided temperatures which ranges from 44°C to 101°C. (Berhane and Mosusu, 1997)"  MRA started conducting geothermal exploration in Papua New Guinea with the support of the World Bank and the Government of Iceland. "The reconnaissance field survey of the various geothermal sites in the Talasea District of WNBP was undertaken in November 2012 as part of the MRA's ongoing geothermal exploration work."  Papua New Guinea belongs on the "Ring of Fire" location, thus strong and frequent seismic activities are notable here. Seismicity is rampant at the northeastern margins of the Solomon Sea where the Solomon plate is sub-ducted northward beneath the South Bismarck and the Pacific Plates along the New Britain Trench. The seismicity in this region is known as one of the most intense in the world.  More on the geothermal prospects, WNBP has at least seven, five of which were explored during the field work. They are Pangalu-Talasea, Bola and Garbuna (Garu area west of Garbuna) in the Williaumez (Talasea) Peninsula, Silanga and Kasiloli prospects in the Hoskins area. Two prospective locations that were not visited are Galloseulo and Bamus. Pangalu and Talasea are considered as separate prospects. In the report as well, Bola is part of Talasea. In the survey, 36 geothermal surface features were identified. These features are geysers, hot springs mud pools, fumaroles and streaming grounds. These geothermal manifestations were studied to determine the temperature, pH, salinity, conductivity and feature dimensions. These geothermal surface features are located within the oil palm plantations, near settlements and near Kimble and Hoskins towns. In the study, water and gas samples were also gathered for analysis. Samples that were taken include 13 spring samples, seven gas samples and even a meteoric water sample from Laka Dakautaua at the Williaumez Peninsula. The samples were sent for lab analysis at the New Zealand Geothermal Analytical Laboratory (NZGAL), GNS Science, Wairakei. Ten of the samples were taken from Williaumez Peninsula, three from Silanga and one from Kasiloli. WNBP is situated within an active tectonic area, thus geothermal activity is common here. The data below shows why these four locations are good prospects for geothermal spots: Pangalu (Rabili) - 270°C to 295°C Talasea Station - 270°C to 310°C Silanga (Bakama and Sakalu) - 210°C to 290°C Kasiloli (Magouru) - 275°C to 300°C Since geothermal prospects Pangalu and Talasea Station are situated within the shoreline, the water samples may be contaminated with seawater. For this, isotopic analysis is needed to test the water samples accurately. This technique in testing and analysis can determine possible seawater contamination of the sample. The report notes that there is a lack of gas and isotopic data analysis during the study. Thus, it is recommended that isotopic analysis should be part of the study. Another important recommendation is the use of proper equipment in collecting gas samples, in order to come up with accurate geochemistry data. Overall, further investigations are needed in surface geology mapping, geophysics survey and geochemical surveys of hot springs that were not yet sampled. ----- Reference: Orere, Barney (24 Feb. 2021). "Geothermal Mapping in PNG". Papua New Guinea Post-Courier. Retrieved from - https://postcourier.com.pg/geothermal-mapping-in-png-2/ Photo credit: Volcano in PNG – Tavurvur volcano, Rabaul, New Britain Island - https://www.flickr.com/photos/mytripsmypics/8398027130 by Eric Lafforgue Photography - https://www.ericlafforgue.com/articles/About
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PNG Business News - August 12, 2022
Going Green: FAO-led EU-STREIT PNG Programme provides green-powered facility to local agricultural authorities to effectively service rural farmers
EU Funded UN Joint STREIT Programme in Papua New Guinea establishes a renewable energy-powered facility to support local government authorities in East Sepik Province, in delivering effective services to rural farmers and entrepreneurs. With generous support of the European Union, the FAO-led EU STREIT Programme officially opened a new 3 cluster office building on 10 August 2022, to host the Programme along with the East Sepik provincial divisions of Agriculture and Livestock, Cocoa Board and the National Agriculture Quarantine & Inspection Authority. The new-look office building is powered by 189 solar panels, which significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduces the collective dependence on fossil fuel. The solar panels supply the building with 90 KW of energy, relieving the resident agencies and authorities from relying on fossil-generated electricity for their needs, including lighting, ICT, water pumping, and temperature control. This zero-carbon-emission facility has the capacity to accommodate around 90 experts, technicians and extension service officers. Equipped with 120 batteries, the building can support staff’s operation for 36 hours in case of experiencing high cloud cover. The building, currently co-resided by the Programme and provincial agricultural bodies, will be transferred over to the East Sepik Provincial Administration at the end of the Programme and will continue to provide a sustainable base for sustainable support to agriculture-related services in the Province. Officiating the opening ceremony, His Excellency Ambassador Jernej Videtič, Head of the European Union Delegation to PNG, in his address, said: “I am happy to be here and to see that things are moving in the right direction to bring sustainable benefits to the people of East Sepik” Ambassador Videtič further highlighted that “with resources from the citizens of Europe to fund the EU-STREIT Programme in providing training, tools and support, the quantity and quality of cocoa, vanilla and fisheries products will increase. The objective is also to protect these quality products in international markets under the EU-STREIT introduced initiative of Geographical Indication.” The East Sepik Acting Deputy Provincial Administrator, Mr James Baloiloi, in his speech expressed his appreciation to the EU for funding the EU-STREIT Programme and the interventions that the Programme is doing in East Sepik and Sandaun provinces. “The STREIT Programme has gone ahead to introduce a culture of agribusiness that now enables the people of this Province and the people of Sandaun Province to have cash income that can sustain their livelihoods.” Mr Baloiloi added, “this infrastructure and building supports us and facilitates the service delivery to our people in this Province as well as Sandaun Province.” Thanking the EU for its generous funding support, Dr Xuebing Sun, the EU-STREIT Programme Coordinator, said: “the Programme has generated substantial impacts at beneficiary, local institutions and enabling business environment levels. This would not be possible with good partnership, increased ownerships and leaderships of the governments and implementing partners.” “This co-residing and close co-operation among UN agencies and their national partners in this integrated space reflect the partnership approach taken by the Programme to sustainably develop agri-enterprise activities in the region,” added Dr Xuebing Sun, adding “the new climate-friendly facility, which is fully powered by solar energy, also provides a space to welcome, advise and serve the farmers, including interested women and youth, who play very important roles along agri-food value chains”. “This kind of ‘green investment’ enables a shift to a more green economy for local institutions and infrastructure to meet cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains stakeholders” advised Anthony Bennett, the FAO Lead Technical Officer of the EU-STREIT PNG Programme. United Nations’ implementing partners supporting the FAO-led EU-STREIT PNG present in the office include the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The EU-STREIT PNG is being implemented as a UN Joint Programme (FAO as leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as implementing partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the Country and the Pacific region. It focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through increasing the economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains and strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers, including the business environment and supporting sustainable, climate-proof transport and energy infrastructure development.
Paul Oeka - August 12, 2022
CPAPNG annual meet to discuss global changes
Certified Practicing Accountants of Papua New Guinea will be hosting their 23rd annual conference with about 400 participants nationwide expected to attend the two day conference organized by CPA PNG in Lae Morobe Province from August 18 to19, 2022 CPAPNG was established in 1974 and has come a long way with a lot of achievements along the way. Over the years its membership grew from mere numbers to just below 2000 which includes 40% locals and 60% non-citizens. . The CPA PNG conference is one of CPAs three significant annual events on their calendar with this year's conference theme; Is PNG prepared for the recession?" The conference will see certain key leaders in executive management roles from both the public and private sector delivering presentations in line with the conference theme. CPA PNG's Executive Director Mr. Yuwak Tau said the theme of the conference was selected because there was a decline in the global economy and the general so when that eventuates small economies tend to be affected. He added that they have basically selected the theme that was current and appropriate so that members would find relevance during the course of the conference. “The meeting is to create intellectual and interactive discussions with seasoned business leaders to present and share their ideas and experiences to find probable outcomes within their business environment and industries in times of economic uncertainty”. Some of the topics to be presented by consultants are current significant issues such as crypto currency, transport pricing, bit coin block chain technology and stress management. This were some topics that people have heard about but have not really ventured into. Mr. Tau added that it would be quite hard to measure the benefits immediately but the participants will be able to look at insights shared during the conference that would be appropriate in the areas of employment, accounting, finance, auditing and others. The conference will create an environment where participants can also share information so That they can take points to apply in their work place and industries. In relation the Kumul petroleum Holdings had also presented a cheque of K50, 000 to support the coming event at their head office. The cheque was presented by KPHL's executive General Manager Corporate Affairs, Luke Liria and was received by CPA PNG Chairman Richard Kuna. Mr. Liria said KPHL has appreciated the effort put in by CPA PNG to ensure that its members in State owned enterprises and the private sector were given appropriate level of training and as part of KPHL's corporate social responsibility and commitment they hope that their support will continue to help the organization facilitate and make sure the accounting practices is of international standards. CPA PNG's Chairman, Richard Kuna acknowledged KPHL for their support and stated that he was looking forward to seeing KPHL being a big part of the upcoming conference.
Paul Oeka - August 12, 2022
BSP: Small to Medium Enterprises Loans reaches 60% rate.
Bank South Pacific's Financial Group Ltd Chief executive officer Mr. Robin Fleming has recently announced that the bank has granted more than K200 million as loans to small to medium enterprises under its credit scheme facility that the then Marape government had released to the bank to support Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) and local businesses during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Fleming said about 1523 customer loans have been approved, that is about 60% of loan approval rates since 2019. Prior to this announcement BSP and the Department of Commerce and Industry (DCI) had agreed to increase the maximum loan under the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) credit enhancement facility to K5 million. The previous limit was K3 million when the Government first released K100 million as security to the bank under its K200 million SME allocation for BSP to rollout the loan facility last year. Fleming stated that even though they have exhausted and rolled out the bulk of the governments relief funds for SME's they will still be running the SME loan program under its credit facility scheme “At this stage, BSP has not received the funding planned for this year but that is not preventing BSP from giving loans under the facility”. “There remains significant capacity for BSP to continue to assess, approve and funds loans under the facility”. “The agreement with the Government did provide for momentum in the SME facility to be maintained while allowing for the Government budget and funding process to be adhered to”. As part of the government SME relief funding, Commercial Banks were allocated K200 million with BSP Financial Group receiving K100 million, NDB K80 million and another K20 million was allocated to the department of Commerce and Industry BSP could not comment on how the National Development Bank (NDB) is dealing with the K80 million it received, but the intent, when discussions were initiated, was that BSP would be lending to more mature SMEs and NDB to startup ventures. In addition to enabling SMEs to access lower cost of funds through the facility with BSP, the bank has also made it a responsibility to ensure that Government funding is preserved by not approving loans that have a higher risk of default.