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Exxon Mobil restarts Papua LNG project

International

US oil giant Exxon Mobil resumed work on Wednesday at its $15.7 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Papua New Guinea, a spokeswoman said, a day after a landslide swept through two nearby villages killing at least four people.

Exxon Mobile spokeswoman Rebecca Arnold said the one-day stoppage is not expected to impact the schedule of the project located about 7 kms (4.3 miles) from the landslide area.

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ExxonMobil leads a consortium building the LNG project, the country's biggest-ever resource undertaking due to come on stream in 2014. The project is expected to produce 6.6 million tonnes on LNG per annum and could see GDP increase 20 percent.

Four bodies were recovered from the site of a landslide that swept through a 1.5-kms trail of mountain settlements in central Papua New Guinea, and the death toll is expected to mount, government officials told Australian media Wednesday.

“We have recovered four bodies,” PNG's National Disaster centre director Martin Mosi told the Australian Associated Press.

“We are expecting more. I am unwilling to put a number on that until I get confirmation from my team,” Mosi said.

Authorities has previously put the death toll as high as 60.

Exxon has offered to support landslide recovery efforts, including helping to reopen the road to the area, Arnold said.

Papua New Guinea shares the island of New Guinea with Indonesia, and is Australia's nearest neighbour, directly north. The majority of its people live subsistence lives despite abundant mineral wealth. - Reuters

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