Petromin – leading to serve

Financial analyst graduate trainee, Lyndsay Abal assists Dr. MacConaghay General Manager New Ventures and Business Development to remove rubbish from the louvers before cleaning them.

About a week ago on the 31st March, 2011, the Petromin staff went on a volunteer exercise to clean the childrens wards 2A and B at the Port Moresby General Hospital. Apparently, as it was reported in the media, the ward clean up was then  followed by some sugary delightful afternoon tea with muffins and doughnuts. (Not very healthy maybe but then I don’t image any sick kid at a hospital would be looking forward to boiled aibika or carrot sticks).

Obviously this generous act was conducted as Petromin’s illustration of how they encourage their staff to serve the community and for team building purposes, so I say well done. It’s the first time I’ve seen any senior foreign manager get down on his hands and knees to clean any hospital in PNG. Usually such managers are just there to throw a bucket of money at the wards.

But beyond all the touchy feely stuff of that hospital visit, I have to say that something more is apparent to me in this tale. It’s that a real organisation with an internal culture has developed. This coming from a company that is only 4 years old with their own fully owned office building I might add. Oh and sorry I do have to add this because I’m also interested in architecture. But I hear that the whole building was bought as a kit which was prepared in Indonesia, then shipped here to be put together. No wonder the building went up so quickly. I was also invited to their building launch several weeks back and I have to say I was also impressed with the fitouts. A very modern looking building from the inside I must add.

But getting back to my point. It appears that a work culture is taking place here, which to me means that we may possibly have a focused PNG statutory body here for once. This is very important in securing our country’s future dividends in a now booming Oil and Gas industry. Judging by the name ‘Petromin’, I wouldn’t be surprised if they even saw themslevs as an aspiring ‘Petronas’ in the Asia Pacific region. (Read more about Petronas here).

Click on image to see larger version of Petromin Corporate Structure

So why are all these Petromin developments good? Well back in 2008, many were in uproar that IPBC had become the State Nominee for the interests in the PNG LNG Project. You can read two examples here and here. The basic gist of the uproar was that if the Somare government had gone out of their way to create Petromin through the ‘Petromin PNG Holdings Limited Authorisation Act 2007’ to manage all the State’s resource interests (much like Petronas), then why create a seperate body, in the likes of Kroton No.2 ltd. ?

As one commentator colourfully put it, ‘…In Hela where I came from, the NEC decision in endorsing IPBC as the State nominee would seem to me like a Chief bestowing his young son from the fourth wife with his will merely to please his wife when in fact the will ought to have been rightly made out in favour of the first son from the first wife’. The government obviously had its reasons and they defended the decision by stating that, “IPBC will remain as shareholder in Kroton No.2 Ltd until the maturity of the existing funding arrangements with the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) of Abu Dhabi. Thereafter, the shareholding will be reviewed.”

Kroton No.2 has now evolved into what is now being called the ‘National Petroleum Company PNG’ which for starters is one of the most unoriginal names I’ve ever heard. I’d be bold enough to guess that maybe their second choice might have been ‘Nambawan Petroleum Company PNG’. At least they have a logo done though. But what we want from all of this besides nice buildings and fancy names is transparency and information from these companies about what they are doing. PNG is on the cusp of not one but several major resource projects which could immensly contribute to all areas of PNG life as we know it. So if these are the two companies that are going to be spearheading our interests through our government, then we need to know what each one is doing and how.

It appears that Petromin is off to a good start and NPCP is only just getting started, so I would demand, more than ask, that more information is made more accessible to all stakeholders so that we all know how our projects are going. There is no more time for hidden agendas and if Arthur Somare wants to bring back some credibility to IPBC then NPCP will be his greatest opportunity to do so.

This is not to say that Petromin is doing everything right and being a resouces company they will obviously be subject to environmental and landowner isssues, but it just helps when you know what you’re dealing with and good top management we can trust is a good start. Looking again at the pictures of the Petromin staff at the hospital the cliche saying comes to mind, ‘to lead is to serve’ but another saying also comes to mind ‘Show Me the Money!’. At the end of the day we just want to know if the money from all this boom talk is actually going to secure our future.

Manager Business Development, Roger Avinaga (foreground) and Dr. MacConaghay (background) prepare to leave the children’s ward.