22 Oct 2007

PNG oil company praised for environment role

2:10 pm on 22 October 2007

A renowned American scientist says Papua New Guinea's largest oil company operates cleanly and protects wildlife.

The evolutionary biologist and author Jared Diamond has just spent three weeks surveying birds in the Kikori-Kutubu area of PNG where Oil Search operates rigs in jungle clearings and pumps oil to the coast.

At a public lecture in Port Moresby he said Oil Search's policies of limiting forest destruction and banning hunting by employees had made its oil fields the best place to see PNG's endangered species, such as parrots and tree kangaroos.

Professor Diamond says outside the oil fields, hunting and forest cutting have decimated wildlife populations.

He says there are too many examples around the world of dirty resource extractors including Papua New Guinea's logging and fishing industries, and the oil fields are a hopeful sign.

Last year, Oil Search admitted it was responsible for a spill of about seven thousand litres of oil in the Gulf of Papua.

Locals reported dead turtles being washed ashore, but the companied denied any environmental damage.