Schulz Appointed As Kumul Petroleum COO
by PNG Business News - September 19, 2022
Photo: Craig Schulz
Craig Schulz has been appointed as Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited's new chief operating officer, filling a long-standing vacancy.
According to managing director Wapu Sonk, it is essential that they have senior technical management personnel who are sufficient and properly qualified given their current level of operations in the petroleum sector, in non-petroleum related national development activities, and with upcoming major projects like Papua LNG and P'nyang LNG.
With his decades of expertise in engineering and petroleum development projects in Australia, PNG, and other countries, he said he is convinced Mr. Schulz would be a tremendous asset for Kumul Petroleum.
“As an organisation we have to be technically and managerially ready to participate in a meaningful manner in Papua LNG, P’nyang LNG and other petroleum development projects that are in the pipeline,” he said.
Having worked with Kellogg, Brown & Root, BHP, and Santos, Mr. Schulz has more than 25 years of leadership and significant project management expertise in the energy and resources sectors in Australia and other countries.
“This experience includes three years in PNG from 2010-2012 as country manager for Santos, a major partner in the PNG LNG Project and operator of the country’s oil fields,” Mr. Sonk said.
Mr. Sonk said Mr. Schulz is not new to Papua New Guinea or the PNG petroleum business and has good links to other national and international stakeholders.
“He will hit the ground running and will be actively supporting Kumul Petroleum’s existing cadre of national professionals,” Mr. Sonk said.
“Development of PNG’s natural gas resources will underpin future national development so it is important that the economic and social benefits from petroleum projects can be maximised.
“Kumul Petroleum has to have the right team members to ensure that this is achieved.”
Reference: Post-Courier (9 September 2022). “Kumul Petroleum Appoints New COO”.
PNG Business News - July 29, 2021
Kumul Petroleum Supports PMGH Cancer Centre Structural Works
Photo Credit: Kumul Petroleum - Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea James Marape has the honour as Trustee of Kumul Petroleum to handover, in a symbolic gesture funds to the value of K10 million to the Port Moresby General Hospital to support the completion of structural works for the Cancer Centre. Structural works for the Cancer Centre at Port Moresby General Hospital will continue as planned following the boost of much needed funds by Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited (Kumul Petroleum). The funding boost by Kumul Petroleum at the value of K10 million will assist with the smooth flow and completion of the Cancer Center structural works after construction had stalled early this year due to a lack of funds. The scoop of work for the completion of the construction includes the roof; upper floor; roof over the banker; including plant room and walls on both ground and first floors. ”Kumul Petroleum is proud to support the structural phase of the Cancer Centre construction works that will house key infrastructure (2 cancer bunkers) that will be important to the health and well-being of Papua New Guineans who seek cancer treatment, said Kumul Petroleum Managing Director Mr. Wapu Sonk. “Our organisation is passionate about supporting the efforts of the National Governments Strategic Vision to improve healthcare in the country and to see the hospital provide the highest quality of care for all Papua new Guineans, but for this to happen it is important that we have the infrastructure to do so. Hence, our support to this project”. Dr. Paki Molumi, Chief Executive Officer of Port Moresby General Hospital acknowledged Kumul Petroleum for its continuous support to the hospital and to specialist health care in Papua New Guinea, saying: “Port Moresby General Hospital is working to develop modern, world class facilities, that the designs for the cancer facility is in full compliance with international standards and construction has been professionally supervised to ensure continuing compliance.” “We are very grateful at Port Moresby General Hospital to receive this funding support from Kumul Petroleum on top of its other commitments. Such support from a national company is vital to the success of this facility and, will help to ensure that we stay on target to complete the facility and begin providing services to the people of Papua New Guinea as soon as possible”.
PNG Business News - August 30, 2021
Kumul Petroleum Pays Interim Dividend of K100 million to state
Hon James Marape, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, received an interim dividend payment of K100 million from Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited (KPHL) in Parliament, which was delivered by the Board Chairman Prof Benedict Yaru and the Managing Director of KPHL, Wapu Sonk. When the Prime Minister received the dividend check, he congratulated Kumul Petroleum's Board of Directors and Management for paying such a significant dividend in such a timely manner. The Prime Minister further stated that he expects the Company to pay an additional K200 million to satisfy the entire dividend of K300 million as stipulated in the National Budget for 2021. He said, “My Government has come to recognise that active commercial participation and having a higher Equity interest by Kumul Petroleum as the National Oil Company (NOC) of Papua New Guinea is critical because it captures a significant portion of the lion’s share of the oil and gas proceeds for the country, which otherwise would normally go to the foreign commercial investors while the State waits to collect taxes and royalties which usually are further squeezed by concessions. Equity is King in any Project whether it be Mining or Petroleum or any other type of Projects, hence our push to have a higher stake in all new Projects, Porgera Gold Mine, Ok Tedi etc. “ The Prime Minister said, “Take back PNG is not a slogan without consequence; it is in fact a call to the people of this country to take control of the agenda for the economic betterment of this our country. Taking our nation back requires PNG to have control over its oil and gas sector from exploration through to production and development. This cannot be achieved under the current regime and without a fully empowered National Oil Company (NOC). That’s why my Government is committed to bringing about positive changes to the regime in the form of production sharing in line with international practice which the major oil and gas companies are already used to. This will be the game-changer we have been waiting for.” To the company’s performance, the Prime Minister said, “Despite the setbacks caused by poor decisions by the past government with the UBS Loan which cost Kumul Petroleum and thus the country about AUD 362 Million (almost a billion Kina) in direct losses, the Prime Minister commended Kumul Petroleum for maintaining a high standard of corporate governance with “unqualified audit reports” for every year since the active operation in 2014. He said the company has every attribute to become like Petronas of Malaysia and make huge contributions to the country if it were left to operate independently like any other commercial entity and without undue interference by the government, which is also how Petronas operates”. “I am pleased to know that after 696 LNG cargos by end of 2020, and from net proceeds of USD1.644 billion received in 2014 to end of 2020, approximately USD$1.119 billion has been passed onto the State; meaning KPHL has paid to the State the equivalent of 68% of the total distributions received from the PNG LNG Project”. These remittances to the State are composed of USD$521,900,300 in direct dividends, USD$394,000,000 in return of capital payments (payments to State under Vendor Finance arrangement for Kroton Equity Option), USD$181,000,000 in various forms of taxes to IRC, and USD$23,000,000 on corporate social responsibility projects such as rural electrification projects in the country and the refurbishment and installation of new equipment The Prime Minister further said “We also must not forget that Kumul Petroleum not only preserved the rights of the landowners and provincial governments to the Kroton Equity Option and provide the necessary vendor financing for those options, but Kumul Petroleum also had to accept a reduction of about US$600 Million in the offer price from US$1.0128 Billion, which was a significant dent to its balance sheet. So in fact, KPHL gifted US$600 Million to the landowners and provincial governments of the PNG LNG Project”. The remaining revenues of KPHL have been re-invested in existing oil and gas fields it has cash call obligations to and other related facilities, a state-of-the-art live training facility for the Kumul Petroleum Academy, and retained for looming projects such as Papua LNG and Pasca Gas Project and related exploratory and studies. Reference: PNG Facts (19 August 2021). “PNG Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited Pays an Interim Dividend of K100 million to state”.
PNG Business News - September 06, 2021
Kumul Petroleum thanks Government for Pandora Licence
Photo Credit: Kumul Petroleum - Minister for Petroleum, Hon. Kerenga Kua MP, officially announced the award of a fourth Petroleum Retention Licence (PRL) the Pandora License to the Managing Director of Kumul Petroleum, Mr Wapu Sonk on Friday, 03 September 2021. Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited (Kumul Petroleum) welcomes the government’s decision to award a fourth Petroleum Retention License (PRL) to the national oil and gas company (NOC). This decision comes less than five months after the awarding of three licences. The Minister for Petroleum, Hon. Kerenga Kua, in officially announcing the award, described the occasion as momentous for Kumul Petroleum as Papua New Guinea’s NOC. “In April of this year, I announced the Marape-Basil Government’s support of the decision of the Petroleum Advisory Board (PAB) to grant PRL 48, PRL 49 and PRL 50 covering the Kimu, Barikewa and Uramu gas fields to Kumul Petroleum. Today’s announcement brings the total amount of PRLs awarded to Kumul Petroleum to four”. Minister Kua said the award empowers Papua New Guinea’s own NOC to take a “significant step forward in its mandate” and thereby also fulfils the Marape-Basil Government’s greater vision of ‘Take Back PNG’. He said he as Minister for Petroleum is pleased that our own NOC has technically and financially prepared itself to take on some of the licenses as their terms expire, and also be able to support the Papua LNG, Pasca and other developments like P'nyang when they happen. He expressed confidence in the technical capabilities of the nationals employed by KPHL and urged the NOC to swiftly progress development plans to commercialise these fields and proceed to developing them as soon as possible”. Upon receiving the award of the Pandora License, the Managing Director of Kumul Petroleum, Mr Wapu Sonk thanked the PAB and the Minister for Petroleum for having confidence in the NOC’s capabilities and for recognising the NOC as an important partner in the Government’s ‘Take Back PNG’ vision. The Pandora license is the fourth PRL that Kumul Petroleum has secured this year, and presents for the NOC the opportunity to put to test aggregation and development concepts which the company has been developing. He said Kumul Petroleum will now be able consolidate these asset and move toward commercialising fields which were previously held by different owners and were otherwise considered stranded, isolated and economically challenging. Kumul Petroleum’s commercialisation plans will include further to drilling of delineation and development wells and project capital investments. Hence to mitigate Kumul Petroleum’s associated risk exposures, the company will look to invite joint venture partners and technical service providers with the requisite technical and financial capabilities who will assume critical roles in the development of these gas fields. Mr Sonk stated that “Kumul Petroleum will commit itself to work with the Department of Petroleum in carrying out the licence conditions. We will also look at the best way possible to commercialise this licence so that it benefits our people who have entrusted us to hold this licence”. Article Courtesy of Kumul Petroleum
Paul Oeka - September 29, 2022
AGRICULTURE HAS HUGE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL
Photo credit: Oxford Business Group The creation of the new ministries by the current government for both major agricultural commodities, Coffee and Oil Palm is a huge step forward in achieving the agriculture sectors economic potential. For the past years the agricultural sector had not been fully utilized by consecutive governments as the focus had mostly been centered on the extractive industry and Mining & Petroleum sector. This important and vital sector is eventually and currently being recognized as an economic pillar to boost the state coffers. Prime Minister Hon. James Marape said the allocation and restructure of the four newly created ministries concentrating on Horticulture (Fresh produce), Coffee, Oil Palm, and Livestock to the agricultural sector is a complete paradigm shift to get agriculture moving again. The focus of the Marape Government on ‘Taking Back PNG’ is deeply rooted and aligned with the mechanisms and functions of the agricultural sector as most of the country’s population are situated in rural settings and largely depend on subsistence agriculture to sustain themselves. Coffee, Cocoa, Oil palm and Fresh produce have been a mainstay that this rural population rely on for income for so many years. As far as many Papua new Guineans can recall and relate, Agriculture has always been the foundation and backbone of the country and it can surely drive the economy forward. Although the agricultural does not match in monetary turnovers for the country, it is an economic foundation and is here to stay. In comparison over monetary benefits with other sectors, Agriculture had not been performing to expectation due to so many underlying issues concerned and faced with the value chain of agricultural commodities prompting a decline in agricultural activities over the years. The Prime Minister said it was no secret that agriculture had declined since independence in 1975, and the current allocation of the four agricultural ministries was to revive the sector for it to be a major income generator for PNG. PM Marape said this when explaining the concept and rationale for his allocation of four ministries to the agricultural sector. This direction by the Marape/Rosso Government to emphasize more on agriculture will boost agricultural activities in and around the country. Mostly the sector had not been given proper recognition for decades and had been lacking government intervention from past successive governments. Now with the current Government’s backing, the respective agricultural ministries and its industries are expected to flourish dramatically and are likely to bring more benefits. The new ministries will also empower provinces that currently do not have mining and petroleum resources. This will certainly build stronger local economic activities for future generations. “We want to see import replacement and more exports within the agriculture sector, which is why we have allocated four separate ministries to agriculture,” PM Marape said. The recognition of this agricultural industries will also ease and slowdown rural-urban drift. The number of people migrating from rural areas into towns and cities in search for better opportunities have risen in the past couple of years due to inequality in the distribution of wealth and lack of government services. Thus, the governments focus on agriculture will encourage many unemployed Papua New Guineans living in urban areas to go back to their home Provinces or villages and be self-reliant. As economic opportunities arise in rural areas from vibrant and innovative policy interventions within these newly created agricultural ministries, it will attract many to contribute meaningfully and be productive on their own customary land. Prime Minister Marape said over the last three years prior to the creation of the new agricultural ministries, his government has given millions of kina to support agriculture through price and freight subsidies and SME support. “We are now targeting specific commodities through the establishment of the four ministries. Over the next term of government, we will give specific production targets for Coffee, Oil Palm and all other major agricultural Commodities” he said. The government also plans to revive and rehabilitate once thriving agricultural hubs in the country such as Cattle farming in the Central Province and the Coffee plantations of the Highlands region that produced quality organic Coffee and grew the fledgling industry pre-independence in the 1960’s. Now that the agricultural sector has been categorized into four industries, there will be room for much improvement in economic activity within the agricultural sector as people will start contributing meaningfully to the economy.
Paul Oeka - September 28, 2022
TREASURER WANTS REVIEW OF ELECTION FUNDS
Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey is dismayed at how the 2022 National Elections were conducted and is now looking forward to a complete review of the allocated funds that were spent on the elections. Ling-Stuckey recently stated in parliament that the government had allocated and funded enough money for the election process to be conducted this year. “We provided a further K50 million to cover the costs for the 2022 election, bringing the total funding for the election to nearly double the level of expenditure in the 2017 national elections. There was enough money to support a much better election this year, so I look forward to the proposed parliamentary committee examinations of what went wrong and what can be done better” he said. The Treasurer also expressed concern that there was a decrease in the public servants’ salaries. He explained that “Once again there is a salary cost overrun. This is K201 million much lower than in previous years, and out of this, over 70 percent is related to teacher wage overruns. We contributed to bring this area under control. After no pay increases during the latest part of the Covid-19 crisis, it is now time to start increasing some salary payments”. “There is also the need to provide additional funding for the seven new districts that have been created and K3 million each has been provided. There are also new members in existing electorates, and it is appropriate that they be given some funds for commencing programs through to the end of the year. For equity reasons all districts and provinces needed to benefit the same so an additional 2 million per district and province have been allocated bringing the funding back to 10 million per districts and provinces” he said. Meanwhile there was an announcement on Thursday last week that the Department of personnel management, Treasury and Finance are working together to ensure that there will be a three percent pay increment in the salary of public servants. This pay increment is to be adjusted and effective by December this year, the welcoming news for public servants was confirmed by the Secretary of the Department of Personnel Management, Taies Sansan.
PNG Business News - September 28, 2022
PNG’s minimum wage
Commentary by Stephen Howes, Kingtau Mambon and Kelly Samof The urban minimum wage has been an important part of Papua New Guinea’s economic history. In the last few years before independence (in 1975), it was greatly increased. In the decade or so after independence, it was widely regarded as too high. In 1992, it was slashed, merged with the rural minimum, and hardly increased again for more than a decade. We can compare the minimum wage in PNG today with other Asia and Pacific developing countries using International Labour Organization (ILO) data. As Figure 1 shows, PNG’s minimum wage is 18% below the average of the 19 countries shown if the market exchange rate is used to compare minimum wages. It is 37% below the average if differences in cost of living are also taken into account (with conversions made on the basis not of market exchange rates but so-called purchasing power parities or PPPs). The greater difference in terms of PPPs reflects PNG’s relatively high cost of living. Of the countries shown, only Samoa and Kiribati have a lower minimum wage than PNG when a PPP comparison is made. This is very different to the past. Raymond Goodman, Charles Lepani and David Morawetz in their 1985 report The economy of Papua New Guinea compared minimum wages in PNG with a subset of the countries above back in 1978. Then, the PNG minimum wage was about twice as big or more than the other comparators. Today (using market exchange rates, and the earlier authors do), PNG comes in the middle of the pack, as Figure 2 shows. So far, we have shown that around the time of independence minimum wages were very high in PNG by international standards, and that they no longer are. Figure 3 shows how this change came about – also, for interest, comparing trends in PNG with those in Australia. Both the PNG and Australian weekly minimum wages are shown in Figure 3 measured in Australian dollars. The PNG minimum wage is converted into Australian dollars using the current exchange rate. Both wages are then adjusted for inflation and expressed in 2021 prices. The two series follow diametrically opposed paths. The Australian minimum wage fell with the high inflation of the 1970s and industrial relations reforms of the 1980s, and by the early 1990s was little more than half its value in the 1970s. It then increased in the late 1990s and 2000s during the resource boom, and has continued to increase. Adjusting for inflation, it is now almost back to where it was in the early 1970s. The PNG minimum wage does the opposite. It increased in the 1970s and was then held stable due to indexation, until the big bang reforms of 1992. Adjusted for inflation, PNG’s minimum wage continued to fall until 2004. There have since been some significant increases, but today PNG’s minimum wage is only about one-third of its value at independence, and below its value even in 1972, which is when the steep minimum wage increases began. The Australian minimum wage has always been significantly higher than the PNG one, but the ratio has changed a lot over time. The lowest that ratio has ever been is 2.2 in 1986, the highest 45 in 2004. The gap between the two wages is much higher now than at independence: the ratio of the Australian to the PNG minimum wage was 14.5 in 2021, compared to only 3.2 at independence (1975). This reflects PNG’s 1992 deregulation, and the faster growth in the Australian economy, which has enabled an increase in the Australian minimum wage. The solution to low wages in PNG is not necessarily to increase the minimum. In some sectors, where there is a lot of international competition, a higher minimum wage might lead to job losses. For example, in tuna processing, one of PNG’s main competitors is the Philippines. From Figure 1, we can see that PNG’s minimum wage is lower than the Philippines' on the basis of PPPs, but actually higher on the basis of market exchange rates. While the former is what matters for the welfare of workers, the latter is what matters for international competitiveness. Whether PNG’s minimum wage should be increased will require a lot more analysis. The point of this blog is simply that PNG’s minimum wage does not look high any more by international comparisons, as it has fallen a lot since independence. PNG is often described as a high-cost economy, and this is a fair description. However, with regards to unskilled labour, it is no longer a high-wage economy. Data note: The PNG Economic Database provides the weekly minimum wage of PNG going back to 1972, and the PGK-AUD exchange rate. Wikipedia provides the Australian weekly minimum wage data (hourly and weekly, on the assumption of a 38-hour week) starting from 1966. The Australian CPI is from the Australian aid tracker. There are some years where Australian minimum wage rates change more than once in a year. For such cases, we took the average as annual minimum wage rate. The data for Asia-Pacific comparisons are from the International Labour Organization and the World Bank. The different frequencies of minimum wages for each country in 2019 in the ILO’s report are adjusted to convert to weekly rates. World Bank data is used to obtain market exchange rates and PPP conversion factors. For the Goodman, et al., data go to Table 3.6 on p.61 in their report.\ Disclosure: This research was undertaken with the support of the ANU-UPNG Partnership, an initiative of the PNG-Australia Partnership, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The views are those of the authors only. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Centre at The Australian National University. Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre and Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy, at The Australian National University. Kingtau Mambon is currently undertaking a Master of International and Development Economics at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, for which he was awarded a scholarship through the ANU-UPNG Partnership. Kelly Samof is a lecturer in economics at the School of Business and Public Policy, University of Papua New Guinea.