Papua New Guinea's national oil company Kumul Petroleum has been awarded retention leases over three gas discoveries that were formerly held by Oil Search.

Kumul said petroleum retention licences (PRL) 48, 49 and 50 cover the Kimu, Barikewa and Uramu discoveries.

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The Kimu and Barikewa fields are onshore while Urumu is a shallow-water resource off the south coast.

The three fields collectively have a best-estimate resource of 2 trillion cubic feet of gas with 50-60 million barrels of condensate.

Wapu Sonk, Kumul's managing director, said the government had a “Take Back PNG” policy whereby assets that have not been commercialised will be transferred to Kumul.

"We will explore cheaper and more cost effective ways to commercialise these fields not only in LNG and gas production but downstream processing, power generation, quicklime and cement production."

“Our focus now is on developing commercial strategies for the PRLs, so we can work towards bringing them to market. This is another milestone for our company and the country, as we continue to work to develop our excellent resources and support the world’s transition away from coal."

Oil Search was the previous holder of the retention leases over Kimu, Barikewa and Uramu but let them expire in October 2020.