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February Newsletter 2015

- 24 Feb 2015
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PNG LNG is an exceptional mega project. It was completed on budget and well ahead of schedule. Most of these giant complex endeavours – and there are now hundreds of them around the globe – don’t meet these targets.

In addition to navigating the sensitive political, environmental and community hurdles associated with most mega projects, ExxonMobil, the lead partner in the $US19 billion PNG venture, had to overcome huge geographical and logistical challenges to realise its plan to ship liquefied gas into Asian markets well ahead of global rivals.

Hundreds of kilometres of pipeline had to be built from wellheads high in the remote PNG highlands to the coast, and then undersea to a two-train liquefaction plant and shipping facilities near Port Moresby. It also required the construction of a runway in the highlands big enough to land giant Antonov freight planes.

The final investment decision was made in late 2009 and construction started in early 2010. Despite hiccups, production began almost two months ahead of planning and the maiden shipment of LNG departed for Japan in May last year. In total, 11 supertanker cargoes were shipped ahead of schedule, enabling revenue and other financials to healthily exceed initial forecasts.

The venture is the largest resource project and private investment in Papua New Guinea, it is the country’s first foray into the global LNG market, and yearly production (6.9 million tonnes) could swell the country’s gross national product by as much as 30 per cent.

Keogh Consulting takes pride in being a small but significant contributor to the success of the PNG LNG project. It provided strategic advice to senior ExxonMobil executives and helped mould an integrated approach between the development and production arms of the project.

Keogh joined the project before FID in 2009 and acted as a facilitating partner through to the project’s completion in the middle of last year. Typical of such projects, Keogh’s workload and participation was most intense in the early years and tapered towards the end as the active partners became more adept at aligning and re-adjusting to shared objectives.

The consulting group has had extended associations with previous mega projects in the Pacific region but never quite as integral as its contribution to the PNG project. The success at PNG LNG has led to other subsequent long-term engagements.

Some of Keogh’s prime tasks involved facilitating the adoption of a clear set of strategic goals and a longer-term legacy vision for the project; aligning and integrating the work of the development and production companies; and coaching and mentoring the heads and executive teams of those development and production units.

It also took on additional responsibilities when cost savings had to be found and implemented within the project, and it was invited on a case-by-case basis to provide additional team development and cascade assistance to managers in a variety of functional areas.

Aligning the work of the development and production arms of the project proved to be one of the most critical tasks for Keogh. They were quite separate ExxonMobil entities reporting to different areas of the global group and were ably led by Ken Larson and Peter Graham, two exceptional but diverse types of leaders.

A pivotal moment in their relationship and a turning point in the project’s eventual success occurred at an initial joint working session when the two leaders crossed the room and shook hands, vowing to work more closely together in the interests of the project. That handshake led to the formation of an integrated leadership team: it was outside the formal structures of ExxonMobil but it became the steering entity of the mega project during its construction and commissioning phase. It was sustained when Decie Autin replaced Ken Larson as head of the development arm.

That was a mega handshake. Symbolically crossing the void and making a commitment to collaborating for mutual gain was a key to project success.


Rowley Spiers is the wordsmith at Keogh Consulting. He loves simple, sparse writing with an emphasis on verbs and adverbs; adjectives, he thinks, should be rationed.

Rowley worked as a journalist for national and metropolitan newspapers for nearly four decades, before the digital revolution unleashed its gale of creative destruction on the industry. He covered national politics, business and economics. He also worked as a media adviser in federal politics and for the competition commission.

He loved the adrenalin rush of journalism – the chase of a good story or the rapid overhaul of a front page to reflect breaking news. The pace at Keogh is different but there are some similarities; he loves the teamwork, the camaraderie, and the pooling together of diverse gifts and talents to realise shared aims.

In his leisure time Rowley loves to dabble in art, mainly acrylic and gouache painting. He’s also a notorious couch potato when it comes to sport broadcasts; he’s an Essendon AFL tragic and he looks forward every July to the Tour de France cycling. Unfortunately, doping scandals are the unwanted link between those two.


Hey MONA, hey hey MONA. The Museum of Old and New Art, that wonderfully strange private contemporary art museum on the banks of the Derwent, is giving Tasmania and the rest of the Australian art scene a proper dig in the ribs.

Sensationally located, architecturally powerful, artistically enthralling: MONA has an ever-changing cast of permanent and exhibition works on display, tied in with its own provocative festival program. David Walsh, the quirky owner of the museum, has given Tasmania a real boost by creating a major tourist attraction in Hobart, but he also has had an influence on the local and mainland art scene, mostly by not following the rules.

The art, of course, is not for everybody but I defy you to go and not come away with some idea buzzing around in your head. That buzzing might even be an aroma if you catch the 2pm daily pooping of Cloaca, the digestive installation. You are warned ... but dared at the same time.

And don't miss the Henry Darger works if they are on display. I was in awe when I walked into the room and saw some of his works in the flesh for the first time. Or the I love you wall of boxes by Tassie boy Patrick Hall; they are a delight that can be played with for hours.

MONA, hey hey MONA. Long may she reign.       GP


Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.  

Victor Hugo

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