[By David Muri] The first shipment of pipes for the liquefied natural gas project has arrived in the country last Thursday [21 October] without much hype and fanfare. Developer Exxon Mobil said work on the pipeline is expected to start early next year.
An industry source said despite the magnitude of the project and the billions of kina in export revenue expected to be generated, the shipment did not attract a formal welcome as expected from top-level delegations. No top representative from developer Exxon Mobil, the national government or the landowners were there to receive the pipes.
The Post-Courier was notified that the first batch of steel pipes arrived at Kopi wharf in Gulf Province last Thursday.
"That was a historical moment for PNG. The country should know what was actually happening as this project would become the single biggest money spinner for decades. This shipment indicates that the pipeline will proceed soon," the source said.
ExxonMobil's public affairs manager Miles Shaw confirmed over the weekend that "I think it's probably" be in the vicinity of Kopi wharf, adding work on the pipeline would begin in 2011. He said the arrival of the pipes signifies a significant milestone in the progress of the PNG LNG project. He admitted there was no formal welcome for the shipment but assured that the media and other important stakeholders will be notified of future shipments.
"There was no formal ceremony at this time but in the future we will organize and inform the media," he said.
Mr Shaw said despite minor hiccups faced during the construction phase, he said the project was having great success.
"We are having success. The project is moving forward with the collaboration of the national government and landowners."