QUEENSLAND�Chevron Niugini Ltd. said that despite political uncertainty in Papua New Guinea and in Queensland, the proposed $6.5 billion (Aus.), 3,500-km gas pipeline project is likely to proceed.
In PNG, the Moran oil field�one of those that will contribute gas to the project�has now been shut down for several days following landowner protests at the field�s helipad.
Apparently one participant group claims there are 27 groups that are legitimate landowners of the Moran field, rather than just the 14 groups previously identified.
Although the row is among landholder groups, Chevron has been forced to shut-in production, something that has previously been avoided (except for technical reasons) since the Kutubu group of fields came on stream 8 years ago.
The incident demonstrates worries about political uncertainty in PNG and security of supply expressed by some analysts and potential customers for the PNG gas in Australia.
The second annoyance for the project progress comes from political events in Queensland including the resignation of former deputy premier and the minister who played a key role in the project development�Jim Elder�over electoral issues.
The embattled Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, has called a state election for Feb. 17, and this is likely to delay decisions on the project once again.
Nevertheless Chevron is putting a brave face on these events, saying that although they are a distraction, the project has strong support across many sectors, including the Queensland state opposition and the PNG government.