Papua New Guinea’s PNG LNG project has played a major role in providing energy for the nation and the world, and ExxonMobil PNG’s (EMPNG) new chief says the people are the real power behind its success.

EMPNG’s incoming managing director, Peter Larden, said people power and the natural gas project’s partnership with the country’s government and local communities have created the foundation for helping PNG prosper.

This is not Peter’s first time to PNG, having previously worked on the PNG LNG project a decade ago.

“Coming back now with the project in its seventh year of production, I am in awe of the results that the partnership between industry, government and communities has had and continues to achieve,” Larden said.

“The whole landscape of Port Moresby has developed and changed for the better since I left, and much of this change is part of the ripple effect of PNG LNG.”

EMPNG managing director Peter Larden

Larden said a key part of this success was ensuring that Papua New Guineans were integral in the process from the project’s construction to its continued  operation. Indeed, about 91 per cent of the project’s total workforce is from PNG, with almost half from local communities in project impact areas.

“The central role that our Papua New Guinean workforce plays in PNG LNG’s success was clear from day one… and today over 2,500 Papua New Guineans work across our operations,” he explained.

More than 230 Papua New Guineans, a quarter of them women, were recruited through ExxonMobil’s operations and maintenance program. This heavy focus on local hiring has now led to PNG having a higher percentage of women working in the company’s operations and maintenance group than any other ExxonMobil affiliate in the world.

“All our control room technicians are now Papua New Guineans, including four women.”

Vickie Watch, PNG LNG’s first female gas plant control room technician.

The first female gas plant control room technician at PNG LNG’s Hides Gas Plant, Vickie Watch, was even at the helm – on her first official day in the job – leading the plant’s shutdown and restart following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

ExxonMobil is also looking to develop the skills of PNG’s next generation, investing in partnerships with PNG universities and the Kumul Petroleum Academy to develop skills in-country.

Another of ExxonMobil’s initiatives is to empower Papua New Guineans in the local community where the project operates in and beyond.

“The vision of a diversified PNG economy that drives local productivity while creating lasting positive effects from external investment is something all of us share,” Larden said.

He said that one example of this collaboration is with landowner company Laba Holdings, a contractor supported by the PNG LNG project that engages with local communities.

Laba has contracted Diari Tailoring, a local women’s sewing business, to produce uniforms for their company.

Diari Tailoring was also supported by ExxonMobil, with its owner Doreka Dai, being a member of the Advancing PNG: Women Leaders Network (APNG:WLN), a long-standing program partner of the energy company.  Dai was a participant in the ExxonMobil PNG-supported Global Women in Management program in 2015, where she traveled to Washington DC to learn from the business experiences and stories of other women who were nominated to participate from all over the world.

“This is a fantastic example of how collaboration between industry, local businesses and community can drive positive outcomes for Papua New Guineans,” Larden said.

He added that PNG LNG’s planned expansion aims to provide more career and job opportunities for Papua New Guineans, building the country’s economy and its people’s future.

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