Papua New Guinea's government has approved the renewal of the retention lease over the large Elk-Antelope gas fields that will underpin Total's Papua LNG project.

The term of the extension of Block PRL15 will apply starting on 30 November 2021, said the Minister for Petroleum and Energy, Kerenga Kua.

During the five-year period of the extension, the joint venture partners - Total, ExxonMobil and Oil Search - will conduct project financing activities and also strategic market studies, which will be done separately or with other participants.

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Studies will include the long-term impact of Covid-19 and the timing of long-term LNG demand recovery to support the timely economic development of the Papua LNG project, said Kua.

The work programme for the Extension includes technical activities in preparation for the front-end engineering and design work.

Certain work programmes such as social mapping and landowner identification are all pre-requisites of an application for a development licence (APDL).

Kua said: “The licence conditions have a solid work programme that my department through the PAB (Petroleum Advisory Board) has approved for the final term of PRL15, and should enable the Papua LNG project JV partners to undertake work that should consolidate on a solid APDL for the project.”

The onshore Elk-Antelope fields contain 6.53 trillion cubic feet of gas and 57.4 million barrels of condensate on a gross best estimate contingent basis, according to Oil Search.