Category Archives: Exploration

Papua LNG group signs MOU with Papua New Guinea

Rick Wilkinson | Oil and Gas Journal | 16 November 2018

The Papua LNG joint venture partners led by Total SA have signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Papua New Guinea for development of the Elk-Antelope gas-condensate fields, known as the Papua LNG Project.

The scope of the agreement includes priority terms and conditions forming the basis for a gas agreement as well as a timeline for negotiation. The gas agreement is scheduled for finalization during first-quarter 2019.

The MOU follows the Papua LNG and the ExxonMobil Corp.-led PNG-LNG joint venture parties reaching broad alignment earlier this year on the preferred downstream concept for the next phase of LNG development in Papua New Guinea.

The plan involves the construction of three 2.7 million tonne/year capacity LNG trains on the existing PNG-LNG plant site at Caution Bay just west of Port Moresby. Two trains will be supplied with gas from the Elk-Antelope fields and the third train by gas from existing PNG-LNG fields and the yet-to-be developed P’nyang field in the Western Highlands. Together Elk-Antelope and P’nyang contain an estimated 11 tcf of undeveloped 2C gas resource.

The Papua LNG Project is based on the Elk-Antelope reseources in petroleum retention license PRL15 in the Eastern Highlands. Total has 31.1% interest, ExxonMobil has 28.3% interest acquired when it bought InterOil Corp. earlier this year, and Oil Search Ltd. has 17.7%. These percentages are after the state of Papua New Guinea has backed into the project for 22.5%.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill labeled the MOU as “another historic moment for Papua New Guinea and the beginning of the development of the second LNG (Project) in our country.”

He said, “Today’s memorandum paves the way for us to enter into a project gas agreement which will be negotiated between the parties over the next 3-4 months and to be concluded by Mar. 31, 2019.”

Peter Botten, managing director of Oil Search which, like ExxonMobil, is a participant in both joint ventures, said pre-FEED downstream studies on the three-train development concept are well under way. The scope of the engineering work includes design, process, and layout optimization of the expansion concept from the gas inlet to the LNG loading arm.

“Work taking place includes the brownfield tie-ins, compressor driver selection, LNG loading and shipping, condensate treatment, storage and loading, and execution planning,” Botten said. “We expect this will underpin entry into the full FEED stage.”

Botten added that discussions between the government negotiating team and the P’nyang (PRL—3) joint venture are well advanced. “With an integrated FEED entry decision required to advance the three-train expansion at the PNG-LNG site, completion of the gas agreement between the government and the PRL-3 joint venture is expected to occur in a similar timeframe to the Papua LNG Project,” he said.

The recent MOU for Papua LNG was signed as a show piece for Papua New Guinea during the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in Port Moresby in the presence of Papua New Guinea Prime Minister O’Neill and Total Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanne.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Exploration, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

China takes baby steps in the bottom of the Mariana Trench

The chubby, fish-like Qianlong-2 submersible is lowered from its mother vessel prior to a dive in the Indian Ocean. Photo- Xinhua.jpg

According to China’s oceanic authority, the next step for the country’s deep-sea technology is developing and testing a drilling facility named Shenlong, plus a mining platform named Kunlong and an information-sharing system called Yunlong.

Asia Times | October 22, 2018

China is getting closer to exploring the bottom of the ocean after a research mission deep in the Mariana Trench, the largest crack in the Earth’s surface that is more than 10 kilometers deep in the Pacific Ocean.

China’s oceanic research vessel Tansuo-1 returned to its home port of Sanya in southern China’s Hainan province last week, wrapping up a 54-day, 7,292-nautical-mile deep-sea research mission.

During the mission a team of 59 researchers remotely piloted and grabbed some close-up looks into the Mariana Trench.

Researchers from the Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering at the Chinese Academy of Sciences tested deep-sea equipment for geophysics, marine geology, geochemistry and marine biology.

Deep sea exploration vessel the Tansuo-1. Photo: Xinhua

During the expedition, two 7,000-meter-class deep-sea gliders operated continuously for 46 days, making it the only abyss-class glider in the world proven to be able to work continuously for an extended period of time under the sea.

A magnesium seawater fuel cell carried out two tests as the world’s first new metal seawater fuel cell tested in the 10,000-meter abyss. In addition, researchers also used a remote-controlled robot to complete high-definition live-streaming 10,000 meters down near the bottom of the trench.

Earlier this year, Chinese media reported the development of underwater platforms to be launched after 2020 to take samples on the bottom of the South China Sea, as well as plans to probe the Mariana Trench.

The People’s Daily has reported that China’s most advanced manned submersible, the Jiaolong, or “flood dragon” in Mandarin, was undergoing a retrofit at the National Deep Sea Center in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao.

Its next dive will be in the deepest part of the South China Sea, a central basin with an average depth of five kilometers. The Jiaolong can dive up to seven kilometers deep.

The launch of the Jiaolong is a landmark in China’s deep-sea exploration as scientists will be able to reach the sea floor for a closer look and complete refined sampling missions.

China is also developing a manned submersible that can dive to 11km and withstand the immense pressure with its sea trial scheduled in 2021, to “scour the bottom of the 11,034-meter-deep Mariana Trench,” according to the People’s Daily.

In April last year, the Jiaolong finished three dives in the South China Sea. It normally carries three people, a pilot and two scientists.

A dive usually starts around 7am and takes 10 hours. The three people inside can only move in a round, cramped space that has a diameter of 1.4 meters, said Gao Xiang, a senior engineer at the center.

According to China’s oceanic authority, the next step for the country’s deep-sea technology is developing and testing a drilling facility named Shenlong, plus a mining platform named Kunlong and an information-sharing system called Yunlong.

This equipment is expected to be finalized in 2020 and put into the South China Sea sometime after that.

Leave a comment

Filed under Exploration, Pacific region

Futuna rejects seabed exploration and mining

Photo: AFP

Radio New Zealand | 14 September 2018 

The kingdoms on the French Pacific island of Futuna have ruled out allowing any work related to seabed mining in their waters, saying their stance is final.

The rejection of any further exploration of the seabed was expressed at a meeting in Futuna with French delegates sent to explain the potential of mining rare earths.

The king of Sigave as well as a leader of the kingdom of Alo told local television that any discussion about land matters had to held with the customary leadership and not with the assembly of Wallis and Futuna.

They said they had seen the negative impact of activities in French Polynesia and didn’t want a repeat of them in Wallis and Futuna.

At the beginning of this decade French teams carried out three exploratory missions in the territory’s waters without consulting the local kings who are officially recognised by the French republic and on its payroll.

The traditional leaders’ view of what comprises their domain clashes with the law which grants France the control of its exclusive economic zone.

Five years ago, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council urged the government to secure resources in the seabed off France’s overseas territories.

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Exploration, Mine construction, Pacific region

Cooks govt looking at seabed mining interest in Norway

Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

Radio New Zealand | 14 September 2018

The Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown is currently in Norway discussing the possible exploration of seabed minerals in the Cook Islands waters.

The Cook Islands News reports that manganese nodules found in the Cook Islands, lie on the seabed, at depths of more than 5000 metres.

According to initial scientific studies, the nodules were of a very high quality and there is a large quantity on the seabed which could make the nation billions of dollars.

Mr Brown said they would re-advertise the tenders as there had been some new interest in exploring the seabed.

He added that all practices, including exploration and the extraction of the minerals, would have to be done in a manner which was environmentally friendly and did not impact negatively on the Cook Islands.

1 Comment

Filed under Cook Islands, Exploration, Financial returns

Norway to Map Deep Sea Mineral Deposits

Maritime Executive | 12 August 2018

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is readying to map potential deep sea mineral deposits in the Norwegian Sea, with an expedition due to get underway this month.

The Directorate has engaged Swire Seabed, which partners with Ocean Floor Geophysics, to carry out mapping of potential sulfide minerals on the seabed over the Mohns Ridge in the western Norwegian Sea. This is a spreading ridge in the Atlantic Ocean that separates two oceanic plates, where potential valuable minerals have been formed through hot volcanic sources. The focus of the expedition is not the active hydraulic systems such as “black smokers,” but rather non-active extinct systems that are now left as mineral-rich piles of gravel on the seabed.

The mapping will be carried out using an autonomous underwater vehicle, a Kongsberg Hugin AUV, which will map the seabed using a bottom-penetrating echo sounder, multibeam bathymetry, synthetic aperture sonar data, magnetometry and spontaneous potential field data.

After the data is processed on board, mineral samples will be taken from the seabed where the data indicates the presence of deposits. Sampling will be carried out using an underwater remotely operated vehicle with a depth capability of 3,000 meters (9,800 feet).

Earlier studies by the Norwegian Research Council have indicated that the region could contain resources worth as much as $110 billion. Around 6.4 million tons of copper metal in addition to zinc (6.5 million tons), gold (170 tons) and silver (9,901 tons) have been estimated to be present in the region. 

Rising demand for minerals and metals, including for use in new technology, has sparked renewed interest in seabed mining. Since 2001, the International Seabed Authority has issued licenses to approximately 30 government and private organizations to explore 500,000 square miles of the deep sea outside national jurisdiction for minerals. 

This increasing interest in seafloor mining globally has drawn some criticism. Despite the term “mining,” much of the activity would involve extraction of minerals over very wide areas of the sea floor rather than digging down to any great depth, potentially leaving a vast footprint on the deep-sea habitats in which these mineral deposits occur. Earlier this year, a study by the University of Exeter and Greenpeace warned that mining on the ocean floor could do irreversible damage to deep sea ecosystems. The deep sea (depths below 200m) covers about half of the Earth’s surface and is home to a vast range of species. Little is known about these environments, and the researchers say mining could have “long-lasting and unforeseen consequences” not just at mining sites but also across much larger areas. 

1 Comment

Filed under Exploration

Mayur set to drill Feni Island

Field mapping at Matakangkaka Creek

PNG Industry News | 13 August 2018

MAYUR Resources says it is ready to mobilise a team do begin a drill program at its Feni Island copper-gold project in New Ireland Province.

This follows the completion of a detailed field mapping and sampling programme within the Matangkaka Creek area at Feni Islands EL2096.

The company says Matangkaka Creek is an eastern tributary of the Nanum River and is rated as one of the top three gold bearing streams in the Feni Island group. It is also near and upstream from the Kabang structure that hosts a 650,000 ounce gold resource.

“The trip was undertaken by Dr David Lindley, Mayur’s veteran expert geologist who has decades of experience on Feni,” Mayur said.

Mayur has correlated this new information with historical data to finalise a drilling programme of up to 2400m. The programme of up to seven holes is focusing on the gold mineralisation in structures beneath and along strike of the Matangkaka Creek.

Mayur managing director Paul Mulder said the company was essentially ready to mobilise and execute the drilling programme at Feni.

“This is particularly exciting as Feni Island sits between Lihir, one of the largest gold mines in the world, and Bougainville, one of the world’s great copper-deposits. You could not ask for a more prospective postcode location of the Feni prospect being the situated island between these two world-class giants.

“This, coupled with historic attractive copper and gold mineralisation from near surface (continuing at depth), provides an attractive backdrop to conduct a drilling campaign, which will be the first in many years on the island,” Mulder said.

1 Comment

Filed under Exploration, Papua New Guinea

Te Atiawa and Taranaki Iwi fundamentally opposed to seabed mining activity

In addition to endangered Māui dolphins, other marine mammals, including fur seals, common dolphins, and orcas (killer whales) can be found in the Marine Park boundaries.

Te Atiawi iwi | 13 July 2018

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust and Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust are fundamentally opposed to seabed mining activities within their tribal rohe.

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust and Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust were notified of the exploration permit application by Ironsands Offshore Mining Ltd in 2016 and each iwi made a submission opposing the application back in September 2016.

Both Iwi organisations were informed of the granting of the permit on 8 June 2018, a month after the permit had been granted by New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals on 8 May 2018.

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust Chairperson Liana Poutu is concerned that the permit area includes a Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

“The permit has been granted inside a Marine Mammal Sanctuary which is administered and managed by the Department of Conservation.

“We find it difficult to understand how one arm of government, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, can cut across another arm of government and make these kinds of decisions without engagement on the issue.

“The permit area also sits inside a mineral mining exclusion zone, so although it’s only exploration at this stage the implication is that if exploration is successful there is an expectation that a mining permit will be granted in an area that excludes this activity.

“Fundamentally, the iwi and hapū of Te Atiawa are opposed to this activity,” she says.

Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust Chairperson Leanne Horo says that the protection of our environment is a focus for Taranaki Iwi.

“Taranaki Iwi’s focus is on protecting, enhancing and sustaining the mouri of Tangaroa ki Tai.

“The Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area and Tapuae Marine Reserve sit within the Te Atiawa tribal rohe and our Taranaki Iwi tribal rohe so it’s concerning to us that the permit has been granted in close proximity to these areas.

“We are launching our environmental management plan, Taiao Taiora, in the coming week which outlines our position on environmental issues.

“Taranaki Iwi is fundamentally opposed to any new mining or prospecting activity taking place within our rohe,” she says.

The permit area at its closest is 2.8km from shore, and sits almost entirely in the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary established in 2008. The permit area at its closest is 0.45km from the Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area and at its closest is 1km from the Tapuae Marine Reserve. The permit area overlaps the Mineral Mining Exclusion Zone in two places.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Exploration, Mine construction, New Zealand