Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fears for life as landslide hits PNG | The Australian

Fears for life as landslide hits PNG | The Australian: RESCUE workers are attempting to reach a remote part of Papua New Guinea after a massive landslide which reports said may have left dozens of people buried.

The landslide struck near a huge ExxonMobil liquefied natural gas project in the country's rugged southern highlands yesterday, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said, leaving a trail of destruction.

Before it was aware of the disaster, Oil Search yesterday reported “good progress” at the construction of the huge PNG LNG venture, which chief executive Peter Botten said was on track to start production in 2014.

But the interruption to work at Hides could put the construction schedule under pressure and has highlighted the technical challenges facing the project and the difficult local conditions.

The region received up to 10 metres of rain a year and landslides were “unfortunately a regular feature”, an Oil Search spokeswoman said.

The project involves the development of several gas fields in the PNG Highlands, over 700 kilometres of pipelines and a 6.6 million tonnes per year liquefaction plant near Port Moresby.

LNG is due to be delivered to customers in Taiwan, Japan and China.

David Knox, chief executive of Santos, a partner in the venture, said the company shared ExxonMobil’s “concern for the workforce and the communities in the affected area”.

A Santos spokesman in Adelaide could provide no further details.

Radio New Zealand International noted that the area was geologically unstable and lay in the shadow of the ancient volcano of Bosavi.

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