"The previous Somare government decided to manage its share of the ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project completely outside of the department through a state-owned enterprise (that was not associated with Petromin either).
Consequently, Sir Michael’s son Arthur oversaw the PNG LNG involvement as public enterprises minister.
There are some views that the PNG LNG project would not have happened under the management of the DPE and even the department’s key obligation to organise landowner meetings was often left to the “last minute”.
While the Department of Public Enterprises was “abolished” by the O’Neill-Namah government in November, the government’s stake of the PNG LNG project is yet to fall exclusively under DPE management.
But the DPE could be more involved with major petroleum projects in the future.
At a petroleum seminar in December, Duma discussed the ambition to have a single national oil and gas company in the form of Petromin.
Duma said he would nominate Petromin as the state nominee for nine PRLs.
Last week, Shell revealed its joint technical study agreement with Petromin would be completed this year – and Shell previously said it was studying all major hydrocarbon basins in PNG.
While Shell has deep pockets and proven technical expertise, some industry observers may end up wondering if there are other reasons the oil major got the red carpet treatment – but don’t expect any easy answers on that front."