Proud origins

It has been a long road to success – taking more than 60 years to generate revenue from our exploration and development efforts. However, over the last 30 years we have grown enormously into a regionally significant oil and gas producer and exporter. Watch the video to take a journey with us, as we explore our proud 90 year history.

Oil Search was incorporated on 17 January 1929 to explore what is now modern-day Papua New Guinea.

On 17 December 2021, Oil Search merged with Santos. You can learn more about Santos at

Operating in PNG’s challenging terrain was a daunting prospect, but we remained steadfast in our belief that there was significant oil and gas to be found.

Success came slowly for us. In our first 40 years, only a few small gas discoveries were made. It wasn’t until the introduction of large helicopters in the late 1950s and the construction of the Highlands Highway in the late 1960s, allowing access into the remote Highlands, that PNG’s vast opportunities were opened up. Oil was finally discovered in 1986 at Iagifu and we generated our first revenue from the Kutubu and Hides Gas-to-Electricity (GTE) developments in 1992.

In the 1990s, a series of oil discoveries were made at Gobe and Moran. Around the same time, we began acquiring assets. In 1998 we purchased BP’s PNG upstream assets, doubling our reserves. This was followed by a merger with fellow PNG oil and gas producer, Orogen Minerals, in 2002 and the acquisition of Chevron’s PNG assets in 2003. By then, we had become the largest investor in PNG’s oil and gas industry and had taken over as operator of all PNG’s producing oil fields and the Hides GTE Project.

Work then began on commercialising PNG’s vast gas resources. In late 2009, development of the world-scale PNG LNG Project was sanctioned, with first production in 2014. This project, which has consistently outperformed expectations, helped transform us into a regionally significant oil and gas producer, and put PNG on the global LNG map.

We have come a long way since 1929 and our growth is set to continue, with the proposed construction of three new LNG trains in PNG and an exciting new oil development on Alaska’s North Slope. These projects have the potential to double our production base by the mid-2020s.

As Papua New Guinea’s biggest company and investor, we believe that the development of the country’s oil and gas assets must create value for all stakeholders and have a sustainable positive effect. We aspire to set the standard for private sector contributions – working collaboratively with government, communities and other partners.

In 2011, we established the Oil Search Foundation to help deliver sustainable development outcomes for the people of PNG and in 2016, committed U$56 million to the cause. We were deeply moved by the devastating February 2018 Highlands earthquake. We demonstrated our commitment to PNG with a rapid on-the-ground response, with recovery efforts still ongoing.

Oil Search has matured and grown along with our country of origin. Our aspirations and strategies reflect our genuine commitment to making a meaningful contribution to the lives of Papua New Guineans.

Read more about our history in a specially produced 90-year anniversary booklet.