Managing Director of Oil Search Limited, Peter Botten, says Oil Search, is not a party to the government’s UBS loan transaction, and neither is it privy to the way the PNG Government wishes to do business.
Speaking for the first time since public debate began on the issue of the UBS loan, and Oil Search share buyback, Mr Botten told EMTV on Saturday, that Oil Search’s 23% interest purchased in Petroleum Retention Licence (PRL) 15, which covers the Elk and Antelope gas fields, is what the company was happy with purchasing.
He also said that despite what many commentators have been saying, the PNG government’s shareholding in Oil Search, it will continue to be a viable investment for the country. A determined Mr Botten arrived in the country from Australia last Saturday, to provide clarity on two things.
The first was the linkage between the PNG governments’ purchasing of Oil Search shares; thus effecting a stake in all potential gas reserves that Oil Search is partnered to.
The second was a stake buyout in the Elk and Antelope gas fields, a promising project that Oil Search had decided to buy into, and one that has now led to a dispute with their joint venture partner, Inter Oil.
For the past two weeks, the PNG media, public, and social media commentators have been relentless in criticizing the state’s initial investment decision, and venture with the International Petroleum Investment Company, or IPIC. All of which culminated in the scrutiny of the UBS loan, by the Ombudsman Commission.
While Mr Botten is highly optimistic of the future growth of the company, he also said that the fact IPIC had refused to sell its shares back to the government of PNG, was a testament of the expected value of Oil Search shares in the future, something PNG will benefit from.
You can catch the full interview with Mr Botten, on a special Insight Program airing tomorrow night, at 7pm on EMTV.
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