PNG and Qld Governments support studies to progress a PNG renewable energy project for PNG and Qld

15 September 2010

The governments of Papua New Guinea and Queensland will today sign a Memorandum of Cooperation with PNG Energy Developments Ltd (PNG EDL) and Origin Energy Limited ('Origin') to support the potential development of a renewable hydro electricity project. The project would create thousands of jobs and provide low carbon baseload electricity to PNG, north and far north Queensland, and Australiaís National Electricity Market.

PNG EDL, a 50:50 joint venture between Origin and PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd, is evaluating the hydro-electric potential of the Purari Hydro Resource at Wabo in the Gulf Province of PNG. Capturing the power of the existing river flows, the development under consideration would have the capacity to generate approximately 1800 MW of renewable baseload electricity.

PNG Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Works and Transport, the Honourable Don Pomb Polye MP said, "The PNG Government is proud of achieving this milestone where the governments of Queensland and PNG as well as the private sector can come together in this strategic partnership to develop such an important project.

"The PNG Government is happy for the PNG Sustainable Development Program and Origin to partner with our two States in realising our potential."

The proposed project would provide a reliable source of power for remote villages and rural communities in PNG and transform the area's economic development prospects. It would provide better access to the Gulf Province, creating a focal point for provision of basic health and education services and a range of opportunities for local communities.

Electricity would also be exported using leading-edge transmission technology via Weipa to join the national electricity grid at Townsville.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said, "Access to reliable energy such as this may help open up significant industrial development in PNG.

"But for an energy project of this size to be viable PNG needs a baseload customer for the power. Under this partnership Queensland looks to become that baseload customer.

"Put simply what that means is if successful this project will be a massive win/win for both PNG and Queensland opening up new opportunities for all of us."

Origin Managing Director, Mr Grant King said the ongoing assessment of the project was consistent with Origin's pursuit of a portfolio of renewable energy opportunities in Australia and select offshore markets. The company is familiar with PNG and Originís LPG gas supply business has been operating in PNG for 30 years.

This project has the potential not only to open up vast employment and economic opportunities for both PNG and Queensland, but also to transform Australiaís potential to meet its carbon emissions goals at reasonable cost.

"This would be the first project to deliver year-round baseload renewable energy into mainland Australia," said Mr King.

A series of engineering and environmental studies undertaken over the past 30 years has identified the Wabo site as a favourable location for a hydro-electric power project, due to its specific geographic characteristics. The unique attributes of the catchment combined with the regionís year round high consistent rainfall (on average around eight metres per year) provide river flows that are well-suited for hydro power while at the same time maintaining downstream river characteristics.

The joint venture has reviewed the existing studies in light of todayís technical, environmental and social standards. All ongoing work, including options assessment and downstream impacts assessment associated with the proposed development, is being undertaken in full collaboration with the Gulf and PNG governments.

A comprehensive feasibility study of environmental, sociological and engineering aspects is expected to be completed in 2012.

"The joint venture will ensure that recognised international environmental and social standards are followed during the feasibility study of the project. In addition, the project will undertake extensive consultation with communities and all levels of government in both Queensland and PNG," said Mr King.

The joint venture will be guided by international environmental and social standards including those endorsed by the Australian and PNG governments, the International Finance Corporation, the World Commission on Dams and the International Hydropower Association.

The project builds on Origin's existing portfolio of renewable developments and options including wind, geothermal and solar and the company's experience with hydro technologies through its interest in New Zealandís Contact Energy.

Electricity generated using hydro-electric technology emits close to zero carbon emissions.

In 2008 a Memorandum of Understanding regarding Business Cooperation was signed by the Government of PNG and the State of Queensland to define areas in which projects of cooperation can be developed, according to principles of equity, reciprocity and economic development and sustainability.

View fact sheet  (36KB)
View presentation  (567KB)

For further information contact:

Media
Lina Melero
Phone: +61 2 8345 5217
Mobile: +61 427 017798

Investors
Angus Guthrie
Phone: +61 2 8345 5558
Mobile: +61 417 864 255


About Origin Energy
Origin Energy is Australasiaís leading integrated energy company focused on gas and oil exploration and production, power generation and energy retailing.

Listed in the ASX top 20 the company has approximately 4,000 employees, is a leading producer of gas in eastern Australia, is the largest owner and developer of gas-fired electricity generation in Australia and is a leading wholesaler and retailer of energy. The company services more than 3.5 million electricity, natural gas and LPG customers across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Origin's strategic positioning and portfolio of assets provide flexibility, stability and significant opportunities for growth in the ever changing energy industry. Through Australia Pacific LNG, its 50:50 incorporated joint venture with ConocoPhillips, Origin is developing one of Australia's largest CSG to LNG projects based on Australiaís largest CSG reserves base.

In New Zealand, Origin is the major shareholder in Contact Energy, the country's leading integrated energy company, operating geothermal, thermal and hydro generation facilities and servicing electricity, gas and LPG customers across both the North and South islands. Origin also operates several oil and gas projects in New Zealand and is one of the largest holders of petroleum exploration acreage in the country.

Origin has a strong focus on ensuring the sustainability of its operations, is the largest green energy retailer in Australia and has significant investments in renewable energy technologies.

For more information go to originenergy.com.au