PNG LNG Project operator Exxon Mobil says it may take at least eight weeks to restore production at the earthquake hit facilities in PNG”s Southern Highlands.
The company said preliminary assessments on damage to PNG LNG facilities caused by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the Highlands has affected a number of facilities, but the project had come through the major natural disaster in good shape.
ExxonMobil PNG managing director Andrew Barry said the company withstood the earthquake extremely well because of the world-class design and construction of the facilities and the quick response by its staff.
“The initial rapid response by our well-trained workforce, coupled with controlled emergency shut-down systems, safely shut in our facilities, minimizing damage to equipment and ensuring there was no release of hydrocarbons,” Mr Barry said.
“Most importantly, we were able to quickly account for all of our employees and contractors at our facilities and confirm that everyone was safe. Nearly 300 non-essential personnel were subsequently evacuated as quickly as possible.”
Mr Barry said work at the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant has turned to restoring camp and associated facilities.
“We have assembled a team of technical experts from ExxonMobil’s global workforce to help the local team complete damage evaluations and restore production,” Mr Barry said.
“It is very important that we recover as quickly as possible to restore normalcy for our workforce, help our nearby communities to recover and contribute important revenue for the country.”
While the gas conditioning plant was safely shut in, there has been some damage to various pieces of equipment and foundation supports that will need to be inspected and repaired. Initial visual inspections of the major processing equipment indicate that they have not been significantly impacted.
Surveillance of the pipeline conducted on 28 February confirmed it has not been damaged.
The wells remain safely shut in. A detailed inspection of some well pads has been hampered by earthquake-related impacts to the roads. It is hoped this work can be completed within the next week.
Komo airfield will remain closed. Options are being developed to return the airfield to service as soon as possible.
ExxonMobil PNG has also brought forward scheduled maintenance activity at the LNG plant and has redeployed maintenance and support staff from the Hides gas conditioning plant to assist.
ExxonMobil PNG’s parent company Exxon Mobil Corporation has announced US$1 million (nearly PGK3.5 million) to the humanitarian relief effort to assist communities affected by the earthquake. This is in addition to the on-the-ground support ExxonMobil PNG is providing to relief agencies to help them rapidly assess priority needs and position and distribute resources to areas in the greatest need.
“This is an unprecedented event for the country and ExxonMobil PNG. I am extremely proud of the way our workforce has responded. Their professionalism and resilience is inspiring,” Mr Barry said. “We are continuing to work with our impacted staff to ensure they have the support they need to help them recover from this event.
“We look forward to restoring our operations to production as quickly as possible and once again showcasing what this country can achieve.”