In brief: Total to build separate LNG pipeline, and other business stories

Competition concerns prompt Total to build separate LNG pipeline, NICTA chief admits PNG has no cyber attack defence mechanisms, and BCL to step up community engagement. Your weekly digest of the latest business news.

The operator of the Papua LNG project will be constructing its own pipeline in Gulf, Total’s Corporate Affairs Director, Richard Kassman, has told The National. He said the decision follows concerns by the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC).  Kassman said the pipeline would be built from the gas discovery site, PRL 15, down to the coast and across to Caution Bay, where PNG LNG’s facility is located.

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NICTA’s Charles Punaha.

PNG does not have any mechanisms in place to protect itself from cyber attacks, but cyber security work will begin at the end of this month, says National Information and Communication Technology Authority (NICTA) CEO, Charles Punaha. He has told the Post Courier that he has asked for funding to send 19 staff to Malaysia for training later this month.

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Bougainville Copper Limited will increase its community engagement activities as part of a comprehensive, staged development plan for a new Panguna mining project. Chairman, Rob Burns, also noted that ASX-listed, Perth-based miner RTG has been nominated by one of nine landowner associations as a development partner in the Panguna project. He added that it was important to stress that BCL has the first right of refusal to develop the Panguna tenement.

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The National Development Bank Chairman, William Lamur, says the bank is still aiming to commercialise its operations in order to take advantage of the increasing demand for SME loans, which have grown 29 per cent since 2012. Trade Minister Richard Maru agreed the Government cannot keep up with the demand that the NDB is facing. Managing Director Moses Liu said the bank had asked for K100 million in the 2017 Budget but had been given only K30 million. The bank celebrated its 50th birthday last week.

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Outgoing PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Greg Anderson.

Outgoing Executive Director of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Greg Anderson, is confident the next generation of resource projects will distribute prosperity to a much larger proportion of Papua New Guinea’s population. Anderson said exports earned from the industry just topped K20 billion in 2016, out of total exports worth K24.8 billion. He said the mining ventures, as well as the quantities of gas available, would see a vast increase in electricity generation so that most people living in towns, and some remote villages, will have access to power in the next 10 to 15 years.

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Mobile operators face hefty liabilities if subscribers do not comply to have their SIM cards registered. NICTA chief executive officer, Charles Punaha, says Digicel has 12 million plus subscribers, which can add up to a liability of over K3 billion. Digicel has reportedly warned customers to register their subscriber identity module (SIM) cards to avoid deactivation after December 31.  All active SIM cards need to be registered before January 1, 2018.

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CPL Group has recommenced trading on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange (POMSoX). A trading halt was imposed on CPL shares on June 19, 2017, after fire raged through its property at Gerehu, gutting its headquarters and warehouse.

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Agmark’s Donald Manoa.

Agmark Group Chairman, Donald Manoa, has announced revenue went up 3.6 per cent from K243.3 million (2015) to K242.7 million in 2016. Manoa said while the cocoa division had remained profitable overall, the size of returns was much lower than had been expected halfway through the year. He said Agmark will open new buying points in Madang and Bougainville.

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Mainland Holdings Chairman, William Lamur, has announced the first hatch of day old chicks at its recently established hatchery in Port Moresby. He also said Mainland would be producing fresh eggs for the Port Moresby market later this year.

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The National Fisheries Authority is seeking the return of a Chinese-flagged fishing vessel from which a PNG fisheries observer was lost overboard in Nauru waters.  RNZI reports several PNG fisheries observers have died while on the job in the Pacific region.

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The effects of betel nut chewing. Credit; BBC

And finally, the Northern Marianas House of Representatives has increased the excise tax on betel nut imports. RNZI reports that, under the old rules, importers paid a one per cent excise tax on each betel nut sale but this is now changed to $US3 per pound of betel nut. The money will be used to deter consumption of betel nut, which is linked to oral cancer.

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