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Papua New Guinea fails to step on the gas

Despite promising resources, disputes over payment terms are stalling progress

ExxonMobil's latest discovery in hydrocarbon-rich Papua New Guinea hangs under a cloud of continuing unrest among landholders that threatens the country's gas-exporting ambitions. In mid-January, the company reported finding gas in the onshore P'nyang field, adding to what Liam Mallon, president of ExxonMobil Development, describes as a "rapidly growing inventory of low cost-of-supply natural gas in PNG". The supermajor has a 49% interest in the block, with drilling operator Oil Search having 38.5% and JX Nippon holding the remaining 12.5%. However, the PNG government—which is sitting on some of the cheapest gas in the region—has been embroiled in a simmering years-long dispute over its fa

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