A magnitude 7.5 earthquake that struck on Monday at a depth of 35 kilometres in Papua New Guinea’ Southern Highlands province had affected the operations at the ExxonMobil-operated PNG LNG export project.
ExxonMobil owns 41.6% percent in the LNG project while Oil Search holds a 29 percent interest in PNG LNG, partly located in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea.
The project includes a gas conditioning plant in Hides and liquefaction and storage facilities near Port Moresby with a capacity of 6.9 million tonnes per year.
ExxonMobil’s PNG unit said on Monday that “all employees and staff are safe and accounted for following a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in the Highlands at approximately 3:40am today.”
The company said it had activated its emergency response plan and was working to mobilise support.
“We are continuing to assess damage to our facilities in Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces. The Hides gas conditioning plant has been safely shut down and our wellpads have been shut in as a precaution until full assessments can be completed,” it said.
Preliminary reports from the Hides gas conditioning plant indicate the administration buildings, living quarters and the mess hall have sustained damage.
“Flights into the Komo airfield have also been suspended until we are able to survey the runway,” ExxonMobil said.
Due to the damage to the Hides camp quarters and continuing aftershocks, ExxonMobil PNG is putting plans in place to evacuate non-essential staff.
“We are also concerned about the impact the earthquake is having on our nearby communities. While telephone communications have been impacted in the region, we are working with aid agencies and our community partners to better understand damage in the local area,” it said.
ExxonMobil added it would provide further updates as more information becomes available.