PNG PALM OIL PRODUCER IN TALKS WITH CHOCOLATE

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More refining of oil could be done in PNG

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 27, 2009) – New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL) is currently negotiating with a major international chocolate maker, a deal hoped to increase demand for the company’s raw palm oil produced in Papua New Guinea.

NBPOL announced that construction jobs on the Liverpool, UK, refinery is in full swing in its bid to meet world standards on food freshness.

The negotiations are still at initial stage, but if proved successful, NBPOL’s refineries in West New Britain province will have to increase capacity to meet the manufacturer’s palm oil requirements.

The UK palm oil refinery was aimed at delivering NBPOL’s products within 24 hours to its industrial clients, mostly dairy processors and food manufacturers.

"We are in negotiations with a very large chocolate manufacturer that would help us expand our refinery here in PNG.

"The potential is that with a very large chocolate manufacturer, we would be doing a significant increase in our refining capacity if our local refinery is to increase its capacity to feed the Liverpool refinery in terms of specific products," Nicholas Thompson, NBPOL’s managing director and chief executive officer, said.

He was speaking to shareholders and guests at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Port Moresby last week.

He said the Liverpool refinery was critical to NBPOL as it needed food-fresh ingredients to be supplied to various food companies in the UK.

"What I mean (by) food-fresh is that they (clients) actually wanted it within 24 hours of leaving the refinery.

"It takes us currently six weeks to ship from PNG to Europe, that’s why we cannot get food-fresh refined products to Europe.

"But what we can do is to do a lot of front-end refining here in PNG and with that, we can freshen the product in Liverpool and basically run it quickly to deliver the refined palm oil in its food-fresh premium.

"But for the factory gate at Liverpool, it has to get into the factory gate of the margarine being manufactured, or the biscuit being manufactured basically within 24 hours.

"So, that’s why we cannot do all of it here," Mr Thompson said, adding that nothing had been announced as yet as negotiations were continuing.

"The UK refinery is being built on the back of our company’s accreditation as the supplier of sustainable and traceable palm oil," he said.

He restated that NBPOL was recently awarded the "roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO)" accreditation.

"We actually timed the construction perfectly because just as the economic downturn hit, we were going out for tender to build the refinery, so the people who are building it want to do it quickly because there is a lot of construction work going on in the UK."

Mr. Thompson said while this year’s first quarter was disappointing, the second quarter "looked successful".

He said NBPOL was now building its seventh mill in West New Britain and plans were underway for the eighth mill.

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