EXXON Mobil Corporation has revealed that it is on track for a significant expansion of operations in Papua New Guinea after the size of the natural gas resource at the P’nyang field was dramatically increased by 84% to 4.36 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The independent recertification study by Netherland Sewell and Associates follows the successful completion in January of the P’nyang South-2 well, located in PNG’s Western Province.

ExxonMobil said the results support discussions with its joint venture partners on a three-train expansion concept for the PNG LNG plant near Port Moresby, with one new train dedicated to gas from the P’nyang and PNG LNG fields and two trains dedicated to gas associated with the Papua LNG project.

“The increase in the estimated resource size of the P’nyang field helps illustrate the tremendous growth opportunities for our operations in Papua New Guinea,” said Liam Mallon, president of ExxonMobil Development Company.

“We are working closely with our joint venture partners and the government to progress the P’nyang field development proposal and secure the licenses needed to develop this world-class resource.”

The development concept, which would add approximately eight million tons of LNG annually, would double the capacity of the existing LNG plant operated by ExxonMobil.

“This investment would extend our gas pipeline infrastructure into the country’s Western Province and have a meaningful and lasting economic impact for Papua New Guinea and its people,” Mr Mallon said.

Oil Search’s managing director, Peter Botten, said the P’nyang increase was very positive news for the PNG LNG venture.

“The significant increase in certified P’nyang 1C and 2C gas resources is an excellent result, with the NSAI certified volumes broadly in line with Oil Search’s internal estimates following the remapping of the field with reprocessed seismic data and the successful P’nyang South 2 ST1 well,” Mr Botten said.

“Combined with gas resources in the Elk-Antelope fields in PRL 15, Oil Search believes there is now approximately 11 tcf of certified gross undeveloped 2C gas resource available to support the proposed development of 8 MTPA of additional, globally competitive, LNG capacity at the existing PNG LNG plant site. Importantly, there is in excess of eight tcf of 1C resource, which will greatly assist marketing activities within each venture.

“Ongoing discussions are taking place between the PRL 3, PRL 15 and PNG LNG joint ventures, as well as the PNG Government, on the preferred development concept for LNG expansion, which proposes one new train underpinned by gas from P’nyang and the PNG LNG Project fields and two trains dedicated to Papua LNG, supplied with gas from the Elk-Antelope fields. The joint ventures are targeting entry into Front End Engineering and Design on this expansion in the second half of 2018,” Mr Botten added.

The P’nyang field is located within petroleum retention license PRL-3, which covers 425 square kilometres. ExxonMobil affiliates operate the license with a 49% interest in the block. Affiliates of Oil Search have a 38.5% interest and JX Nippon has 12.5%t interest.

The drilling success at P’nyang follows on from last year’s exciting Muruk gas discovery, located near the PNG LNG project infrastructure at Hides.

The Total-led Papua LNG is seeking to commercialize the Elk-Antelope fields located in petroleum retention license 15 in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea. An ExxonMobil affiliate holds 37.1 % interest, and affiliates of operator Total S.A. and Oil Search Limited have 40.1%v and 22.8% interest, respectively