Post Courier | November 27, 2019
A Landowner Umbrella Association on where [sic] the Papua LNG project is situated has successfully taken out a temporary court order, stopping the progress of any development on the US$10 billion project.
The landowners of Baimuru through their Umbrella association Purari Development Association (PDA), obtained the stay orders through a challenge of a decision by the State to cancel their Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) title.
The lease, according to the association, covers the project area. In a press conference organised at the Port Moresby Archdiocese, the president Roy Evara, his son Daniel Evara his vice president Poroa Kaia and leaders of the nine tribes of Baimuru applauded the court decision saying, “No Papua LNG Project – Not until a new gas agreement is negotiated under a new Oil and Gas Legislation”. “
We want, in fact, we demand the fast-tracking of a new oil and gas law that Prime Minister James Marape and his government foreshadowed recently, to be enacted.”
The three main issues to be addressed in the new law according to the landowners are a guarantee for full involvement and participation of landowners in all aspects of project development; the use of production sharing model for all oil and gas development projects in the country, starting with Papua LNG Project; and a new increased level of equity of up to 50% of State’s total equity and other benefits for landowners under such production sharing model, before the Petroleum Development License Agreement is negotiated.
The restraining orders were taken out from a court challenge to judicially review the decision of the Registrar of Titles for the cancellation of their Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) title.
“Let me be clear to all who care to listen – we will not be an unfortunate bunch of landowners that will stand condemned for missing out on more superior benefits that a new production sharing model arrangement promises, when change for such law is foreshadowed to be around the corner. Indeed, we will not allow that to happen and now call on the State, the developer and its partners, and other stakeholders that we all go back to the drawing board and negotiate in good faith something that is a win-win for all parties, “ said Mr Evara
They also stated that the government has been ignoring them for too long.
“Despite our existence and our God-given rights to our land and resources, we have never been acknowledged nor respected, through any meaningful engagement at any time during the gas agreement negotiations by the O’Neill government, nor in the recent review by the Marape government. For all intents and purposes we just don’t seem to exist at all.
“We refuse to be taken for granted anymore. More importantly we are resolved that the Papua LNG Project will not progress any further, until the landowners aspirations and desires are heard and that legislative and policy changes that protect the interests of landowners and the country as a whole are fully enacted by law so that we are not to be bullied by corporate giants and made to look as beggars in the development of our scarce resources. ”
The effect of the Interim Court Orders according to the landowners basically means that the State is restrained from entertaining and approving a PDL license.