ExxonPRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says the country will have a good friend in high places in the USA after the former chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, was  nominated by United States President-elect Donald Trump to be the Secretary of State in his Administration.

Prime Minister O’Neill said he was delighted Papua New Guinea would have a “very good and genuine friend” in the Donald Trump administration in one of the most important offices in the US Government.

“Our nation is privileged to know Mr Tillerson as a person with a genuine interest in economic development in our nation,” PM O’Neill said.

“In my discussions with Mr Tillerson on ExxonMobil’s substantial and long term investment in Papua New Guinea’s energy sector, I have been impressed by his understanding of the potential our nation holds.

“He has a clear appreciation of our oil and gas sector, and his confidence in it the expansion of this sector,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that in the 10 years Mr Tillerson has been Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest energy company, he has been heavily involved in development of the PNG LNG project.

“From the initial negotiation right through to the completion of construction, and the initiation of exports, Mr Tillerson led his team.

“Never at any stage did his confidence in Papua New Guinea waver, and we owe him an enduring debt of gratitude for that.

“Under the leadership of Exxon Mobil, with good partners such as Oil Search, this trail blazing project was delivered on time – and it is now a benchmark for the future expansion of the sector in Papua New Guinea,” he said.

“Being prepared to give up one of the most influential business leadership positions in the world to join the new US administration as Secretary of State, reflects highly on Mr Tillerson’s integrity and his commitment to public service.

“I am sure we will also continue and expand our wide ranging engagement with the United States in areas such as border security, fighting terrorism, managing climate change and trade development.

“I look forward to continuing our relationship with Mr Tillerson in his new role, and welcoming him as Secretary of State to APEC Papua New Guinea 2018 meetings.

“The government and people of Papua New Guinea join with me in congratulating Rex Tillerson in the high honour and the great challenge the President-elect has given him, and we wish him well in the future.”