PacTow Salvage Saves APEC Haus
by PNG Business News - September 29, 2021
Photo: The abandoned ‘Hawea’, an ex New Zealand navy patrol boat, was salvaged by Pacific Towing just in time before it could break up and cause significant damage to APEC Haus at Port Moresby’s Ela Beach.
Pacific Towing (PacTow) saved APEC Haus from likely and significant damage after it salvaged an abandoned vessel that had run aground within metres of the landmark building. The salvage of the ex New Zealand navy patrol boat ‘Hawea’ occurred last Thursday evening during strong winds and a rising tide. The PacTow salvage team expertly manoeuvred the leaking vessel off the rocks it was lodged on, then towed it back to its dedicated tug base at Motukea.
After receiving notification of the marine casualty from the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) and PNG Ports Corporation, PacTow rapidly despatched its tug ‘Wato’ and lifeboat ‘Buru’. Twelve crew and five members of PacTow’s commercial dive team were directly involved in the salvage; with additional support provided by senior managers and operational personnel located at the company’s headquarters.
Upon arrival at Ela Beach at 7.00pm it was evident to the PacTow team that given the high waves and shallow water, the vessel was in imminent risk of breaking up. The divers quickly assessed the integrity of the Hawea’s hull and bollards for towing. The vessel was then towed by its stern to dislodge it from the rocks and then by its bow once it was in safer waters. The Wato and her crew proceeded to tow the vessel back to PacTow’s tug base at Motukea, where she was securely moored shortly before 10.00 pm.
The following day, when daylight permitted a thorough inspection of the vessel by PacTow marine engineers, it was discovered that the aging vessel was in exceptionally poor condition with several leaks. PacTow reports that the vessel’s intake of water is currently mitigated by around-the-clock mechanical pumping.
It is understood that the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) is in the process of trying to track down the vessel’s owners. PacTow plans on disposing of the vessel if the owners can’t be located and the relevant authorities provide them with instruction to do so.
PacTow has performed well over 50 salvages in the region and is Melanesia’s leading marine salvage and emergency response company. General Manager Neil Papenfus described the most recent salvage as one of “patriotic duty given the significance of APEC Haus to our country.”
To learn more about Pacific Towing and its salvage capabilities, as well as its commitment to serving PNG and its communities: www.pacifictowingmarineservices.com
PNG Business News - March 15, 2021
Pacific Towing Passes International Safety Audit
Nearly 5 years LTI free and with a record of continuously improving and fine tuning its safety systems, Pacific Towing (PacTow) recently passed its International Safety Management (ISM) Code audit. The voluntary audit was conducted in accord with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the United Nations agency specialising in maritime and shipping affairs. The aim of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of PacTow’s Safety Management System with regard to its vessels as well as its shore-based support. The audit was conducted in accordance with a variety of IMO standards and international industry best practice. HSSEQ Manager and Designated Person Ashore (DPA) Richard Hayka reports that the audit, which was conducted by HSE New Zealand, incorporated not only the ISM Code but also the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. The audit was conducted online due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Importantly, Hayka confirmed that the audit verified PacTow’s Safety Management System was in compliance with all mandatory rules and regulations. This is in line with the company’s expectation that it will be certified for ISO standards 9001:2015, 14001:2015 and 45001:2018 by midyear. The audit also found that all annual vessel surveys were up to date and in accord with the National Maritime Safety Authority’s (NMSA) requirements. Furthermore, statutory certificates reviewed as part of the internal audit were found to be valid, and company records verified that all policies were properly implemented. Adding to the safety credentials of PacTow, is the recent employment of an Operations Manager with considerable international oil and gas sector experience, including emergency response – Captain Marcelo Santini. Together, Hayka and Santini are getting ready for another audit; they are preparing PacTow’s dedicated tug base at Motukea, Port Moresby for an International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) gap audit. Hayka says that he expects certification for this next audit to be achieved by the end of Q3 this year. To learn more about Pacific Towing and its safety credentials: www.pacifictowingmarineservices.com
PNG Business News - October 20, 2021
Marine Services for Papua New Guinea’s O&G Sector
Pacific Towing’s commercial dive team is central to the numerous services it provides PNG’s O&G sector including in-water surveys to class with live feeds back to international survey technicians. Pacific Towing, a 44 year old marine services business headquartered in Papua New Guinea has been servicing the oil and gas sector in excess of 10 years. The company is a member of both the International Spill Control Organization and the International Salvage Union. With its own Australian trained and certified commercial dive team, ‘PacTow’ is now providing its in-water surveys to class with live feeds streamed back to internationally located survey technicians. PacTow provides a diverse range of services to not just O&G companies themselves but also to some of the largest offshore support operators. General Manager, Neil Papenfus says that the company’s commercial dive team at its dedicated tug base in Port Moresby is central to the many services it provides its O&G clientele, including the sector’s offshore operators. Of considerable value to these offshore entities, are PacTow’s in-water class surveys. “Because our dive team can provide a live feed to surveyors in just about any country, we’re able to negate their need for international travel. The live feed component of our service is obviously highly valued given that COVID-19 is making it next to impossible to get specialist international technicians both in to and out of PNG.” Papenfus confirms that the company’s commercial divers are all Australian trained and certified. In addition to being highly trained, he says that "as PNG nationals they have an intimate knowledge of the country’s water ways, its weather patterns and overall marine conditions – they are definitely the best in-country and easily equal to their international counterparts.” Other services PacTow provides to the O&G sector include oil spill response and prevention; video pipeline inspections; PLEM valve hook up and release; towage, berthing and mooring; hull cleaning; and a range of niche, as well as project-based customised solutions. Specific to the country’s PNG-LNG project are the installation of current sensors, inspection of navigational piles/systems, and sea water intake inspections. Additional services provided to two of its downstream clients include mooring inspections and repair, annual pressure testing of fuel transfer sub hoses, and also seabed survey and sampling. The company anticipates introducing new services to support PNG’s O&G sector as it invests further in its re-fleeting program which will see it acquire another three Azimuth Stern Drive (ASD) tugs by 2025.
PNG Business News - April 21, 2021
Innovative Flat Pack Engineering – 75 % Freight Reduction’
Ark Pacific has cleverly engineered its flat pack buildings to guarantee a minimum freight footprint for its clients. Unlike competing products, six of Ark’s high quality flack pack units are equivalent to a single standard 20 foot shipping container when stacked together ready for transport. Not only are freight costs drastically reduced (by up to 75 percent) but so too are carbon emissions. Furthermore, the ease and speed with which the flat packed buildings can be transported to site is greatly improved. Land freight costs in particular, greatly add to the cost of building in PNG, especially in remote locations. Although Ark Pacific does not compete solely on price, the considerable freight savings associated with its flat pack systems enable it to be one of the lower cost building alternatives without compromising on quality. A recent mining client was able to transport all of the flat pack componentry required for five office blocks, one ablution block and one crib room on just one semi-trailer truck – competing modular products would have required up to eight trucks. In addition to reducing freight costs and therefore the overall cost of construction projects, building with Ark Pacific flat packs also help reduce a client’s environmental footprint. For example, one truck travelling between Lae and the Highlands obviously produces considerably less emissions than eight trucks. Moreover, fewer trucks have less negative impact on unsophisticated road infrastructure, including many of the unsealed and rough roads servicing mining sites. Popular with its resource clients, Ark Pacific products also have the advantage of quick assembly utilising local and unskilled workforces. A basic one-room accommodation unit can be installed in a single day. To date, all of the thousands of Ark modules across PNG have been installed by local content. Ark Pacific’s team of managers are available to oversee any construction project if required. With a 10 year presence in PNG, new resource client projects in 2021 include a Crusher Facility Office and Electrical & Instrumentation Building (both two-storey), as well as the project cited earlier. Ark Pacific is also halfway through constructing a 750 person mining camp (16 x two-storey buildings; 54 ensuited rooms per building). Initially having specialised in camp accommodation and office complexes for the resource sector, Ark Pacific has recently refined and expanded its residential housing product range. Durable and fit-for-purpose designs – ideal for community relocation projects as well as senior staff housing – are now available. Ark Pacific reports that it is not experiencing any supply chain difficulties due to COVID-19. Furthermore, given its reliance on local labour for installation (as opposed to expatriate personnel impacted by travel restrictions), clients have been able to commence their builds as soon as the flat packs arrive on site. To learn more about Ark Pacific, including how its flat pack systems can minimise your construction project’s freight footprint: www.arkpacific.net
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Australia buys Digicel, PNG’s mobile monopoly
Photo credit: Devpolicy by Stephen Howes Yesterday, Telstra announced that it was buying Digicel Pacific. Telstra itself is only paying $270 million, and the Australian government $1.33 billion. Yet, Telstra is obtaining 100% ownership. The deal is certainly an attractive one for Telstra. But does it make sense for Australia, and for the Pacific? Digicel has had a transformational impact in the Pacific, but now has too much market power. As the Telstra release explains, it holds the dominant position in all the Pacific countries in which it operates, except for Fiji, where it is in second place. In Papua New Guinea, which I know best, and which is by far Digicel's biggest market, the company has a 92% share of the mobile phone market. That makes Digicel effectively a monopoly in PNG. And that is why it is so profitable: like any monopolist, it exploits its market power. Australian and PNG researchers have been tracking mobile internet prices in PNG since Australia gifted it a new underwater cable . Their conclusion is that since the completion of that cable in December 2019 to today there has been no decrease in mobile internet prices. The reason is simple: the lack of retail competition. Michelle Nayahamui Rooney, Martin Davies and I last year exposed Digicel PNG’s predatory loan scheme. Digicel lends phone credit to its customers. They pay it back when they next top up. Our estimate is that Digicel made a 17% return from such loans every week, which is equivalent to an unbelievable 351200% a year. Is this really the way in which Australia want to engages in the Pacific – owning an enterprise that keeps prices high for consumers, and rips them off when they are desperate to make a call? Any monopolist is necessarily engaged in a battle between the consumer and their profits. At some point, Telstra will end up going toe-to-toe with the PNG telecom regulator, NICTA, as Digicel has done several times. It’s going to be awkward for both Telstra and the Australian government. Many will welcome the investment as a sign of Australian commitment to the Pacific. However, if we want to invest in the telecom sector in the Pacific, we should be backing alternatives to Digicel, to push prices down and improve services, not buying out the dominant player. Amalgamated Telecom Holdings based in Fiji is the Pacific’s second biggest telecom provider. It is currently planning to enter the PNG mobile market with support from the Asian Development Bank. This is the sort of investment we should be financing. That Australia has bought Digicel shows the extent to which the Pacific is now viewed through a China lens. That’s unfortunate. China is a massive economic power. Its companies will have increasing stakes in economies around the world. That is a fact we have to accept. The Australian government also needs to decide if its only goal is to counter China or if it is still seeks to promote Pacific development. When I was AusAID's Chief Economist, Digicel was the new kid on the block in the Pacific, and it was successfully challenging state-owned telcos that until then had been dominant. In 2006, in Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's flagship Pacific 2020 report, we wrote glowingly about the competition that various Pacific countries had recently started allowing in the mobile phone sector. Our analysis was right then, and remains relevant today. Yet here we are, in 2021, doing the opposite: rather than supporting greater competition in the telecom sector, subsidising the purchase of the incumbent monopolist. The decision to buy Digicel Pacific should be reversed. If it is too late for that, the Australian government should at least – in return for all its cheap and risk-reducing finance – oblige Telstra to operate Digicel for the benefit of the people of the Pacific rather than solely for its shareholders through an agreement that makes it clear that the Australian company is not only expected to return the cheap loan it has been given, but also reduce prices, and end rip-offs. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Centre at The Australian National University. Stephen Howes is the Director of the Development Policy Centre and a Professor of Economics at the Crawford School.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Taureka Replaced As Managing Director
Isikeli Taureka's position as managing-director (MD) of Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH) was terminated by the National Executive Council (NEC) recently. Professor David Kavanamur has been appointed as interim MD until a permanent appointment is made, and Moses Maladina, the current chairman of PNG Power Ltd, has been named as acting chairman. Taureka was removed after 20 months, according to Prime Minister James Marape, due to poor performance by KCH and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and missed national project deadlines. “The reforms of the SOEs were endorsed by the Government in October 2019,” he said “We see it as the most-significant reform programme to be undertaken by any Government since the corporatisation of the state utilities and the creation of the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), now KCH. “Building governance and accountability must go hand in hand with successful project execution. These are viable projects that can fundamentally change the accessibility and affordability of services and benefit the welfare of our people. “Extensive unexplained delays to major projects by KCH and SOEs are not acceptable. The Government understands that SOE issues cannot be immediately resolved as they take time. “That is why the NEC provided well over a year for KCH to work with SOEs to support the development and execution of strategies. We had hoped more would have been achieved during Taureka’s tenure. We regret to take the difficult step of severing the MD’s appointment. However, the NEC felt it had to be done. “The Telikom merger and partial privatisation with majority ownership and board control to be passed onto the super funds, for example, is one major issue the Government has been pushing since 2019 when we took office. “The merger of Water PNG and Eda Ranu is another matter that has been outstanding and not yet resolved. This merger is to take on a subsidiary structure where 20 percent of Eda Ranu is to be owned by Koiari landowners and 10 per cent each by Central Province and the National Capital District. “This decision was taken in 2019 but has not been implemented to date. “As for PNG Power and its continuous performance issues, these have been ongoing and evident. “These are badly-needed reforms within the SOEs and responsive policies have been launched by the Government, yet, very little or no progress have been made. “Out of respect to Taureka as a leading Papua New Guinea son, I had reached out to him for a meeting but there was no response forthcoming. Hence, the announcement of this decision (termination),” he added. Those nominated to crucial positions, according to Marape, must grasp the larger picture and act quickly to fulfill the government's goals.“For others in key leadership roles, whether as chair, members of boards, departments or agency heads, you are not here to pass the time or warm seats. Everyone must step up. “The Prime Minister’s Department is working to take stock of work done. So, if you feel you have not met your key performance indicators, I suggest you start thinking about resigning before the NEC asks you to leave.” According to Marape, Kavanamur had previously served as the chairman of KCH and had a thorough awareness of the organization's issues as well as the government's goals. Reference: The National (22 October 2021). “Cabinet Axes Taureka”.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Digicel Pacific to be Acquired by Telstra
Telstra has announced that it will buy Digicel Pacific for $US1.6 billion, plus up to an additional US$250 million based on business performance over the next three years, subject to government and regulatory approvals. In its six South Pacific markets – Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu – Telstra, Australia's leading telecommunications and technology company, will continue to invest in and operate the business under the Digicel brand name. Telstra International CEO Oliver Camplin-Warner said the agreement will allow Telstra to expand on Digicel Pacific's regional leadership and increase mobile connectivity in Papua New Guinea. “Denis O’Brien and the Digicel team have built a phenomenal business that’s centred on providing exceptional customer service, the best coverage and leading digital experiences. Telstra will add to these strengths and the team’s local knowledge with our more than one hundred years’ experience connecting the vast expanses of Australia to continue delivering great experiences for Digicel’s customers across the Pacific.” “We have 19.5 million retail mobile customers in Australia and our 4G network is the largest and most reliable in country. It covers some of the remotest parts of Australia – from the coast, to the outback and the Torres Strait Islands, just off the coast of Papua New Guinea. And we’re in the process of building Australia’s largest 5G network that now stretches to more than 240 towns and 75 per cent of the population,” Camplin-Warner said. There will be no employment losses in the region as a result of the transaction, and the present Digicel Pacific team will continue to manage the company on a day-to-day basis. Denis O'Brien, the current owner of Digicel, will continue on the Board of Directors. “We will invest our know-how and capital to further expand coverage and over time bring the benefits of 5G to Papua New Guinea. But we’ll retain the same Digicel brand the people of PNG know and love today with the same team and services they have come to rely on,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. The purchase, according to Camplin-Warner, is in line with Telstra International's expansion plan, which now comprises operations in 20 countries outside of Australia and thousands of clients, including businesses, governments, and some of the world's largest technology firms. “Beyond Australia Telstra also has the most extensive subsea telecommunications cable network in the Asia Pacific. And we’re one of the biggest providers of voice and data services connecting the South Pacific to the rest of the world through our Southern Cross cable.” “Network traffic is growing faster than at any other period of time and digital technology is changing our world. We are at the centre of this, and so is Digicel Pacific. We are committed to delivering the best technology on the best network for PNG,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. The people and businesses of PNG will benefit from Telstra's experience rolling out a world-class 5G network and connecting diverse geographies, according to Colin Stone, CEO of Digicel Papua New Guinea. “Telstra’s network innovation has played a critical part in Australia being ranked first in the global Mobile Connectivity Index which assesses networks based on performance, affordability and availability. We look forward to working with Oliver and the Telstra team,” Mr Stone said. The two firms' ideals, according to Camplin-Warner, were likewise matched. “Digicel Pacific and Telstra are both committed to building a connected future so everyone can thrive and this includes supporting some of the most vulnerable in our communities.” “Digicel Pacific has taken community development to the next level through the Digicel Foundation’s investment in health, education and community-based programs. We look forward to continuing this work, just as we do today with the Telstra Foundation and its commitment to using technology to support young people and help to reduce the digital divide.” “We will also bring a commitment to addressing climate change to help drive better environmental outcomes for the people of PNG,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. Despite the fact that the transaction is funded by the Australian government, Telstra will remain the only owner and operator of the company. Reference: Loop (October 25, 2021). “Australia’s biggest telecommunications company to acquire Digicel Pacific”.