Marubeni Corporation has acquired 21% shares of Merlin Petroleum Company (hereinafter “Merlin”), more than 99% shares of Merlin had been held by JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation (hereinafter “JX”) through its subsidiary. Merlin holds oil and gas interests in Papua New Guinea (hereinafter “PNG”) including interests in the country's first LNG project named the PNGLNG Project utilizing the gas to be produced from the fields in which Merlin participates and other oil and gas fields in PNG.
Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) have supported Marubeni’s acquisition of Merlin’s shares through their provision of loan and insurance facilities respectively.
The PNGLNG Project will transport natural gas from the oil and gas fields located in the Southern Highlands Province and Western Province in the central PNG to a liquefaction plant which is under construction nearby Port Moresby, a capital of PNG, through over 750km pipelines to be laid and liquefy the gas for exports. Long-term sales and purchase agreements for 6.6 million ton per annum of the LNG from the PNGLNG Project have been executed with internationally reputable LNG buyers in Japan, China and Taiwan for 20 years. The PNG's first LNG project, scheduled to be on stream in 2014, has been receiving the full support of the PNG government as a national project and is currently in progress.
As PNG has geographically easy access to Asian countries and is rich in natural resources PNG is expected to strengthen its presence as one of the energy supply sources to cover the increasing LNG demand among Asian countries especially in Japan. Marubeni along with JX that has been engaged in exploration and production of oil and gas for over 20 years and has good track records in the country will promote business to extend opportunities in PNG and, at the same time, Marubeni and JX intend to cooperate to develop the energy resources in other regions as well.