Two M6 earthquakes strike beneath Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is located in a seismically active zone known as the Ring of Fire and regularly suffer from powerful earthquakes.

ExxonMobil Corp. said on Monday it would take about eight weeks to restore production at the Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas project (LNG), following a powerful quake that hit the country's energy-rich interior a week ago.

A report by the World Food Program for the United Nations two days after the 7.5 magnitude quake hit the Southern Highlands on February 26 estimated 465,000 people were exposed to the disaster of which 143,000 needed urgent humanitarian assistance and 64,000 were suffering from extreme food insecurity.

"Most people have been traumatised emotionally from all that is happening and the continual earthquakes going on, their gardens and even homes have collapsed". "Big trucks can not go there".

"We know at least 500 people are injured and 127,000 people need immediate aid such as food, water, shelter and healthcare" Regmi said.

Regmi added that water and sanitation were major concerns for local communities, with relief workers unable to get bigger food trucks through to some areas because of damage to roads by landslides.

Aid workers say almost 150,000 people are in urgent need of emergency supplies with many of them displaced as their homes are either destroyed or badly damaged.

Australian oil and gas companies Santos (ASX:STO) and Oil search (ASX:OSH) say it will take about 8 weeks to fix the liquefied natural gas project which they have stakes in following last weeks quake.

"Just to put it into perspective, the provinces are already among the most remote in the country and on a good day, when you do have road access, it's a two-day drive at the shortest from the nearest coastal port", she said.

Australia, New Zealand and the Red Cross have all pledged aid, though reaching the remote area has proven challenging as forbidding terrain, bad weather, as well as damaged roads and runways have delayed aid efforts.

ExxonMobil Papua New Guinea managing director Andrew Barry said production at the $19bn project would be restored as quickly as possible.

  • Rogelio Becker