Kumul Petroleum moves to commercialise more gas fields in Papua New Guinea


State-owned oil and gas company Kumul Petroleum has been gradually acquiring licences to some of Papua New Guinea’s smaller and ‘stranded’ gas assets. Managing Director Wapu Sonk explains the strategy behind the move to Business Advantage PNG.

Kumul Petroleum’s Wapu Sonk

In 2021, Kumul Petroleum was granted the Petroleum Retention Licence for the Pandora gas field in the Gulf of Papua. It followed the granting of three other licences – for the Kimu and Barikewa onshore gas fields in PNG’s Forelands region and offshore at Uramu earlier the same year.

All the fields have significant exploration histories. In the case of Pandora, estimated to contain one trillion cubic feet of gas, it has passed through several hands over the years.

‘We see ourselves as the right partner in between all the parties to encourage aggregation and development.’

‘The goal is to consolidate these isolated and economically challenging assets, previously held by different owners, and move toward commercialising fields,’ Wapu Sonk, Kumul Petroleum Holdings’ (KPHL) Managing Director, tells Business Advantage PNG.

‘We will be looking to invite joint venture partners and technical service providers with the necessary technical and financial capabilities to assist in the development of these gas fields.’

Connecting stranded resources

Sonk wants to use KPHL’s unique position to aggressively develop these licences, while capitalising on synergies with PNG’s existing gas infrastructure.

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In practice, this means ‘piecing together and connecting the resources that would otherwise be stranded into the existing facilities of the PNG LNG project, or what is going to be built by Papua LNG’s partners,’ he explains. ‘We see ourselves as the right partner in between all the parties to encourage aggregation and development.’

Given that it doesn’t really fit into that model, Sonk admits that a field like Twinza Oil’s Pasca A offshore field, close to Pandora, now remains a bit of an anomaly. ‘Pasca A alone doesn’t stack up,’ says Sonk.

‘They can strip the liquid condensate but the gas must go somewhere and the only place for the gas to go is into the PNG LNG or Papua LNG assets.

‘We welcome the different parties in Pasca A to come and talk to us, so we can present a combined position to either the PNG LNG project partners or TotalEnergies’ Papua LNG.’

Marketing its own product

After exercising its right to take up equity in the Papua LNG project, KPHL will eventually be free to market around 22 per cent of the project’s gas once the project loans are paid off. In the meantime, KPHL will continue to jointly market the gas with project lead, TotalEnergies.

The opportunities are significant, according to Sonk.

‘The market has started to open up. Beyond existing markets, there are secondary, tertiary markets developing. There’s no destination process anymore in the local contracts, so LNG can go anywhere. It’s changed.’


  1. Manevi Gene says

    Valid points raised here by Michael Yanda. While many of us want to see Papua LNG come on soon, it appears a lot more fundamental issues are yet to be addressed.

  2. First, I applaud and congratulate the Management and Board of KPHL in acquiring licenses eventually to some of our oil & gas fields in the country. Its been long overdue.

    Second, I wish to comment on Papua LNG Project that KPHL also has significant interests in, on behalf of the State and the people of this country. This project is the 2nd LNG Project in the history of this country and its significant. I was involved in the 1st LNG project, the PNGLNG Project and by comparirion, I see lead up events to the full development of this project do not add up or compare well as a major and impact project based on the following;

    (i) FID and FEED stages are not concluded yet and Iam wondering how long or how much more time will it take to get the project up and running. All set dates appear to lapse.

    (ii) The existing infrastructures at the current Papa-Lea Facility built initially for the PNGLNG Project gas volume appear to have not been expanded to take the increased volume of gas from the new Papua LNG Project. The infrastructures appear to remain the same.

    (iii) Contracts are not yet signed and customers secured for the sale of LNG products from the Papua LNG Project. From my experiences with PNGLNG Project, all potential customers were all lined up before all others happened. Hence, it now casts some doubt if project is even ready to commence. Or if the customers will be the same as for the PNGLNG Project under existing contracts, terms/conditions etc.

    (iv) Rock types/structures of Papua LNG (PRL-15) differs more significantly than those of the PNGLNG Project and all other hydrocarbon fields rock structures in the Gobe/Kutubu/Hides areas. The PRL-15 rocks appear to be limestone than the PNGLNG Project of which is sandstone.Thus, it may not be commercially viable as costs of extraction at PRL-15 may be huge.

    (v) Few others more but will stop here.

    Thus, the above main issues and others propel me to raise one big question:

    “Will Papua LNG Project ever materialize…???”

    Thank you.

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