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REFILE-Papua New Guinea to review resource extraction laws next year

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TOKYO, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Papua New Guinea plans to begin working with foreign investors next year to review natural resource extraction laws that are more than 40 years old, the country's petroleum minister said on Thursday at an industry confernce in Japan.

Most of the country's resource extraction laws stem from before it won independence in 1975, and the government, which came to power in May, is looking to ensure the country benefits more from its huge petroleum and mineral resources.

Papua New Guinea is already in the process of revising its Mining Act, and next year will look to update its petroleum legislation to match regulations in other nations that produce liquefied natural gas (LNG).

"In early 2020 the government will look at such changes in our regulatory set-up in close consultation with our development partners," Papua New Guinea Petroleum Minister Kerenga Kua said at the annual LNG Producer-Consumer conference in Tokyo.

"This consultation is necessary to ensure Papua New Guinea is walking forward in lock-step with its investors."

The push comes as Exxon Mobil Corp and Total SA are leading twin projects that aim to double the country's LNG exports to around 16 million tonnes a year.

"Whilst attracting FDI (foreign direct investment) in the oil and gas sector, reaping and sharing the rewards involving this valuable resource must be equitable to our development partners, investors, and the host government and its people," Kua said.

The Total-led Papua LNG project recently secured an agreement with the government, first signed in April, and then reviewed and endorsed by Kua with some minor new commitments from Total.

Exxon now needs to secure an agreement with the government for the development of the P'nyang gas field, which will help feed an expansion of its PNG LNG plant.

That agreement is needed before Exxon and its partners can begin preliminary engineering work for the PNG LNG expansion, which has a first-production target of around 2024. (Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Writing by Sonali Paul; Editing by Tom Hogue)