InterOil Is in Final Talks on ‘Multi-Billion Dollar’ LNG Deal

InterOil Corp. (IOC), which plans to develop a liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, is in the final stage of talks with major oil producers and a national oil company for a “multi-billion dollar” partnership.

“We’re well aware that our shareholders are eager for us to conclude the long-running sell down and LNG partnering process,” Chairman Gaylen Byker told investors yesterday on a call. “We too are eager to complete this process, as are our potential partners and the PNG government.”

The company, whose shares trade in New York, hired Spencer Stuart & Associates to conduct a global search for a new chief executive officer after the departure of founder Phil Mulacek announced last month, Byker said on the call after the company reported its first-quarter earnings, according to a transcript.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Europe’s largest oil company, said last year it had discussions with InterOil and was interested in the proposed Papua New Guinea LNG plant. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) is already building a $19 billion project in Papua New Guinea to export gas to Asia. The cost of Exxon’s venture jumped 21 percent last year because of a stronger Australian dollar and construction delays.

InterOil plans to announce the result of the partnership negotiations before finding a new CEO, Byker said. The company is in recruitment talks with a “number of candidates, several with project management experience,” he said.

InterOil said on March 1 it had received several partnership bids for the Papua New Guinea project and its advisers were evaluating the offers. The development will rely on natural gas from the Elk and Antelope fields in Papua New Guinea, according to the company.

The company said in February a decision by the Papua New Guinea government in November to approve its LNG project “clears the way” for the company to complete the process to find a partner and go ahead with plans to build an LNG plant. InterOil said in 2011 it hired Morgan Stanley, UBS AG and Macquarie Group Ltd. to evaluate partnership proposals.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Paton in Sydney at jpaton4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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