Making oil and gas development safe in New Guinea

Greening the oil and gas sector

By engaging with the oil and gas sector in New Guinea, WWF has been able to turn potential environmental threats into conservation opportunities.
One of the regions containing the highest levels of oil and gas deposits until now is also one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Kikori River Basin.


Challenging bad practice…

In 2006, successful lobbying by WWF resulted in the financiers of a joint PNG-Australia Gas project introducing a set of stringent environmental conditions on a loan it was to provide for the construction of a new pipeline in the biologically rich Kikori River Basin region.

The planned route of the pipeline previously ignored the proposed locations for Protected Areas and areas of high biodiversity and cultural importance. Many local communities had expressed their dissatisfaction about the plans.
 / ©: WWF / Paul CHATTERTON
Oil Search Facility, Papua New Guinea
© WWF / Paul CHATTERTON
 / ©: WWF
What are the problems?
© WWF
Apart from forcing a re-think of the pipeline route, additional environmental conditions introduced entailed:
  • the non-connection of a highway which would stretch from the highlands to the coast;
  • the cancellation of four large logging concessions covering 400,000 hectares of Asia’s Pacific’s largest remaining rainforest;
  • the funding of a catchment management programme for the lifetime of the pipeline, as well as
  • giving communities assistance in protecting their land against invasive species.
This was an abrupt about-turn on large-scale gas development plans that could have devastated the region.

WWF is encouraging the involvement of the government, local communities, NGOs and the pipeline developer, to jointly work together to produce a sustainable land use plan for the Kikori Basin.

A successful partnership…

For the past decade, WWF has been working in partnership with Oil Search Limited (OSL) in an effort to protect the unique biodiversity of the Kikori River Basin.

While few partnerships of this magnitude exist between international oil companies and conservation organisations, WWF is using this relationship to test whether such a partnership can be a successful way to promote and achieve large-scale and long-term environmental conservation.

WWF is working to ensure that the company respects the biodiversity of the region in which it operates and continues to monitor and enforce high safety standards throughout its operations.

Collaboration highlights Kikori's vital importance

Biological surveys made possible by the partnership have highlighted the importance of the region’s tropical forests - rainforests which would have certainly been logged by now had their significance not been recognised.

Today, these forests continue to provide habitat for wildlife as well as a source of building material, food, medicine and tools for the local communities.

Some of our key results:
  • Scientific expeditions have now surveyed three quarters of the Kikori basin and as a result entirely new animal and plant species have been discovered, including recently, a number of new orchid species. The PNG Forest Institute, UPNG herbarium and museums now have more records of flora and fauna from Kikori than any other part of PNG.
  • The Community Development Initiatives Foundation (CDI) has been formed out of the WWF and OSL relationship. The foundation works closely with government departments, NGOs, and other organisations to improve the quality of healthcare and education to local communities.
 / ©: WWF / Wayne Harris
Orchid, Papua New Guinea
© WWF / Wayne Harris

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