Saturday, March 22, 2014

Commissioning and testing at Hides Gas plant is another milestone reached by ExxonMobil

By Joe WASIA

The Papua New Guinea’s economy changing project, the PNG LNG, operator ExxonMobil has reached another milestone yesterday when it tapped on its turbine at Hide Gas Conditioning Plant for testing and commissioning of key facilities and equipment.
It marked another milestone after construction work at different sites of the project for more than 4 four years. The US$19 billion PNG LNG project is now more than 95% complete and remains on budget and on track to deliver its first cargoes in the second half of this year.
To the eyes of many, especially local communities, employees and contractors it may mean something less when they saw the flames at the plant site but it is an achievement and a milestone reached by the world’s energy giant, ExxonMobil.

The current gas flow is from Oil Search’s Kutubu Central Processing Facility (CPF) in Southern Highlands Province to HGCP in Hides. Kutubu gas project has been in operation for more than 20 years now. 

The project was initially constructed and operated by Chevron Niugini Limited in early 1990s and later PNG’s leading oil company, Oil Search Limited, took over more than 10 years ago. During the period of this gas project operation the companies extracted only oil.

Exxon Mobil Corporation’s subsidiary Esso Highlands Limited and Oil Search agreed to pipe the unused gas into PNG LNG plant in Hides. So it has two different pipes running from Oil Search’s Kutubu Central Progressing Facility to Exxon’s Hides Gas Conditioning plant in Hides Hela Province.


There are 2 pipelines from Kutubu CPF to HGCP. The mainline pipeline is 32 inch and 445 kilometers starting from Napa Napa Oil Refinery near Port Moresby and ends at KP0 at HGCP in Hides. And the small 8 inch pipeline starts from Kutubu to HGCP and is about 270 kilometers.
While project operation expected to start in the next half of the year, gas from Kutubu Facility already in pipe towards HGCP since 25th December 2013. This gas is used in the plant to provide power and enable commissioning activities.

The project construction phase will end in few months when final touches are done in different project sites at refinery, pipeline, and conditioning plant in Hides. The plant construction in Hides is about 98% complete and spine line connections are expected to complete in few weeks.

There are 7 different sites where spine line connections are made by Spiecapag Niugini Limited as a continuation of its onshore pipeline project started from Kikori in Gulf Province. They are Well Pad A, B, C, D, E, F, and Well Pad G. Most of the crews working along the mainline pipeline and the spine lines have been demobilized remaining with only few to be demobilized soon.

The plant construction teams also have started mass demobilization last couple weeks and continue now. It’s not surprising to see such a mass demobilization from a total of 19, 000 workers (national, local and expats) as PNG’s much talked PNGLNG construction phase come to an end. Very soon we will have massive revenue flow and the country’s GDP is expected to be doubled by 8 to 9%.

The Papua New Guinea Government, the project operator ExxonMobil and its co-venture Oil Search and other partners in the project and the people of PNG are happy to see the project coming to an end. And will have full smiles on their faces in a next couple of months.
The successful completion of the construction work is a milestone achieved for the government of Papua New Guinea, Exxon Mobil and all other clients to the project. In a country dominated with rugged mountains, deep valleys, fast flowing rivers, rough seas and swamps with different people having varying cultures, traditions and believes it’s never an easy task for such a huge project but they have made it through.

Congratulations to the project operator Exxon Mobil, all contractors and their subcontractors for making it a success despite few security, safety, environment and health issues. Here are some of the major contractors to the project;


1. Spiecapag Niugini Limited for Onshore Pipelines Constructions
2. CCJV for all civil works
3. MCJV for Komo International Airfield construction
4. Saipen for Offshore Pipeline Construction
5. CB&I Clough for plant construction in Hides
6. And others

It is expected that Papua New Guinea will have steady economic growth as we move into operational phase of the project. That means country’s GDP will be doubled and will continue to increase steadily year after year. However, it remains with fogs and clouds surrounding PNG side of the project and its revenue whether PNG’s very own natives, the resource owners, will see feel and touch the effect the huge amount of money from their resources.

If the government, elected Members of Parliament, bureaucrats and departmental heads, contractors, and project management team on the ground continue to abuse their roles by involving in corrupt practices we will have no one to blame for ruining our own nation and the future.
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