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Domestic fuel prices set abroad despite crude exports

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, September 9, 2009) – Interoil has plans to produce refined fuel products that could be procured cheaper by local consumers, it was revealed yesterday.

InterOil raised this prospect because despite Papua New Guinea being an oil producer, domestic fuel prices are still determined by forces beyond its control and that of the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) and the PNG Government.

Under current arrangements, InterOil imports crude oil from the world market for refining.

The same crude had actually been exported earlier by Oil Search.

InterOil now plans to use feedstock from Elk-Antelope to produce refined oil and fuel products at lower cost for distribution in the local market.

InterOil’s senior manager media relations and public affairs Susuve Laumaea said as the company was involved in trying to set up PNG’s second LNG project, "it hopes to produce refined oil and fuel products that are cheaper for the domestic market".

And with its own discovery of gas and gas condensate at Elk-Antelope fields in Gulf province, this vision looks promising, he said.

"There is hope that future refined oil and fuel products from the Napa Napa refinery using feedstock from Elk-Antelope would dramatically bring down the cost of domestic refined fuel products," Mr. Laumaea, said.

"That is what InterOil can do as a long-haul partner in investment and development in PNG and to underpin its status as a wholly PNG-based energy house," he added.

The oil refiner was stirred to have this vision as the owners and operators of crude oil fields.

"We have never thought about building a competing oil refinery to produce cheaper fuel products for sale in the country."

As such, "we are stuck with the present status quo wherein a refinery owner or operator has no direct local feedstock to refine and sell more cheaply for domestic consumers," Laumaea said.

"But the situation will change as part of LNG project development strategy, InterOil is working on a future positive outcome for the PNG fuel consuming public," he said.

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