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ExxonMobil says no indication of damage to Papua New Guinea gas pipeline

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Reuters are reporting that ExxonMobil Corp has announced that there is no indication so far that the powerful earthquake in Papua New Guinea has damaged the 700 km pipeline that delivers gas to its coastal LNG plant.

Whole villages were flattened and water sources spoiled by the earthquake early on 26 February that killed at least 20 people, as rescuers struggle to reach the hardest-hit areas in Papua New Guinea’s remote, mountainous highlands.

The 7.5 magnitude quake led Exxon to shut its US$19 billion LNG facility, the country’s biggest export earner, amid fears of damage to gas field infrastructure and the pipeline that carries gas to the coast.

Exxon planned a full visual inspection of the pipeline route, while specialist engineers would need “a little bit of time” to assess damage to the project.

The quake’s epicentre was located close to the gas fields that supply the project.

ExxonMobil shut the two LNG trains at the coastal plant following the quake, but these have not been damaged.

All employees and contractors are safe and Exxon is working closely with aid agencies, communities and partner Oil Search Ltd.

Buyers who have contracted regular supplies of Exxon’s Papuan LNG said they expect the outage to last at least seven days.

The PNG LNG project is considered one of the world’s best-performing LNG operations, having started exports in 2014 ahead of schedule, despite the challenge of drilling for gas and building a plant and pipeline in the remote jungle of PNG.

The liquefaction plant has been producing at around 20% above its rated capacity of 6.9 million tpy.

Exxon said earlier this month that together with its partners, France’s Total SA and Australia’s Oil Search Ltd, it plans to almost double the facility’s export capacity to 16 million tpy.

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