Radio New Zealand | 21 March 2017
Papua New Guinea’s major LNG Liquefied Natural Gas or LNG project could be shut down again due to simmering landowner frustrations.
Landowners in the Highlands province of Hela say the government has let them down again by not following through on promised benefits from the multi-billion dollar gas project.
The landowners mounted a protest blockade of the project’s conditioning plant in Hides last August.
In response the government signed an agreement to address landowners’ grievances over lack of benefits and equity arrangements within thirty days
Hides landowner representative Andy Hamaga said government did not honour their promise.
“Unfortunately to date they haven’t done anything. We are looking at options, whether to take them to court, or go with the national arbitration, or go go back again and shut down the whole (LNG Project) operations before the general election,” he said.
At the time of last year’s blockade of the LNG plant, in response the government said the delays in royalty payments to landowners were due to complications over identifying genuine landowners.
The Petroleum and Energy minister Nixon Duban said that it was in the best interests of Hela to ensure that the right beneficiaries would be getting the payments.
“This project is going to be here for a long time,” Mr Duban explained at the time.
“We cannot make a mess and pay the wrong people. And so the onus is on the state to ensure it’s done properly. Whether we take one year or a couple of months, we must ensure it is done properly.”
However, Mr Hamaga said this was misleading.
“The state minister is not giving us the actual information,” he said.
“They were supposed to do this clan vetting and landowner social mapping thing before we signed the big Umbrella Benefit Agreement we have signed in 2009. I think they’re using this one as an excuse.”