PAPUA New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’neill has announced a cabinet reshuffle which has resulted in the replacement of Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma.

The new appointments were announced in February and mark the first cabinet reshuffle for the PM since his 2012 election victory.

Mr Duma, who has held the petroleum and energy portfolio for about 18 months, has been replaced by former police minister Nixon Duban, a member of Mr O’Neill’s People’s National Congress party, local media reported.

Minister Duban will now be in charge of ensuring progress is made on PNG’s resources projects, including the completion of the PNG LNG project later this year.

According to the Islands Business, Mr Duma’s dumping means that the Western Highlands Province, which in Mount Hagen holds the country’s third largest city, will not have any representation in cabinet.

In other new appointments, Mr O’Neill said Nick Kuman will take over the education portfolio and Delilah Gore of the Triumph Heritage and Empowerment party has taken up the Higher Education portfolio, replacing David Arore, Radio New Zealand International reported.

Additionally, Independent MP Robert Atiyafa has been made police minister.

When announcing the transitions, Mr O’Neill thanked the long-serving ministers for their service.

“I have decided to make these changes after 18 months of government since the 2012 election,” Mr O’Neill was quoted by The National as saying.

“My decision has been based on performance, teamwork and stability.”

Mr O’Neill said he had confidence in the refreshed cabinet, with all new appointments bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table following many years in politics.

In the wake of the appointments, the PM took to his party’s Facebook page to explain the reason behind the minor cabinet re-shuffle.

“The re-shuffle was a requirement for our continued growth in this country,” Mr O’Neill said.

“The people of PNG are watching our performance and they want results. I and the other cabinet ministers all want results and we are here to deliver.

“We need to at times, make changes, even if they are not the popular ones. I want the best team to achieve the maximum result.”

Mr O’Neill assured there was consultation with all party members and the ministers about the changes being implemented.