Tag Archives: Hela Province

PNG’s LNG Province risks falling into the hands of criminals – police

Papua New Guinea police say they are losing control in Hela Province which is at the epicentre of the Exxon-Mobil LNG project. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Radio New Zealand | 22 March 2018

Papua New Guinea’s Hela Province is at risk of falling into the hands of armed criminals, local police say.

The Post Courier reported Western Highlands police commander Martin Lakari as saying the provincial capital Tari was a “battle field” where there was no respect for law and order.

Tribal enemies in the province have reportedly been searching and murdering each other in the capital, and police officers have become targets when they try to enforce the law.

On Friday, a ward councillor was brutally shot at close range and killed in front of a large crowd outside an illegal gambling house beside the airport.

During the same day, a young woman was gang raped by armed men who had set-up a roadblock in Tigibi along the Highlands Highway outside Tari.

Mr Lakari called for immediate intervention by the police hierarchy and Government or he says criminals will take total control of the province.

Hela was one of the worst hit provinces when a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck in February.


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Hela Government casts doubt on PNG Earthquake Report

ONE PNG | The National | 20 March 2018

Hela Governor Philip Undialu has cast doubt on an Australian government report which cleared resource companies of blame for the recent earthquake.

The report by Australian government agency Geoscience Australia cleared mining and hydrocarbon companies of any wrongdoing over the 7.5 magnitude earthquake which caused much devastation in the Highlands. Undialu and Hela provincial administrator William Bando were given copies of the report by Oil Search staff in Moro last Saturday.

He said an independent investigation must be conducted into the earthquake under the terms of reference of the Hela government.

The report said there was significant public concern that industrial activities such as mining or hydrocarbon exploration and production in the Highlands, could have contributed to the earthquake.

The report said:

“While the Feb 26 earthquake was the largest earthquake in the Highlands since 1900, its occurence was consistent with the known seismic characteristics of the region;

“The high frequence of earthquakes in this region is due to natural tectonic processes that have been recognised by many geological studies of the region over the past half-century;

“The size of the earthquake and intensity of the ground shaking of this event are consistent with the regional plate tectonics that have formed the New Guinea Highlands over millions of years;

“The depth at which this earthquake started (17km or more) is not consistent with earthquakes triggered through mining or hydrocarbon and extraction activities, which generally occur at depths less than 5km; and “The Feb 26 earthquake is highly unlikely to have been triggered through mining or hydrocarbon exploration and extraction activities.”.

Meanwhile,  Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has commended the partnership between the Government, private sector and development partners towards the relief efforts after the recent earthquake.

He told the PNG Petroleum and Energy Summit in Port Moresby the earthquake was the worst PNG had experienced.

“The disaster has been terrible but I have no doubt that we will recover and we will further promote the industry in our country,” he said.

“We’ve seen an ongoing rise in the prices in oil and gas which has been good. But we have seen the worst earthquake that hit the Highlands region in nearly 100 years.

“The scale of this disaster is substantial and the impact on the local community is devastating.

“We still haven’t got the final confirmed death toll but we know it is well over 150 lives lost.

“There still remains a high risk threat of diseases to be present and the aftershocks are continuing.

“Working together with the private sector, our development partners, and the governments of Australian, New Zealand and China for the swift and effective response to the disaster.

“I thank the private sector for their outstanding contribution to this effort, in particular Oil Search who have demonstrated their commitment to our people, swinging into action very early just after the earthquake struck.

“This response has saved lives and continued to give hope to the people in the disaster area who are scared and confused.”

O’Neill also acknowledged ExxonMobil, Mineral Resources Development Company, Defence Force, Australia and New Zealand governments and other partners.

O’Neill commended Ok Tedi and Kumul Petroleum Holdings, both donated K50 million (US$15 million) each.

“I am very encouraged by the partnership. There is no doubt that we will continue to enhance this so we can support many of the affected communities for years to come,” O’Neill said.

The participants observed a two-minute silence for those who lost their lives during the earthquake.

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Call For Investigation Into Cause Of Quake

Hela Governor Philip Undialu is calling for an independent inquiry 

Post Courier | March 7, 2018

The Hela provincial government has asked for an independent group to look into the cause of the earthquake.

Governor Philip Undialu said that the call was made after those affected by the earthquake asked the provincial government to look into the cause of the disaster.

Mr Undialu said that the sudden earthquake was undetected by disaster relief offices both in PNG and abroad. “Hela Provincial government will support the call from the Hela people especially victims of the earthquake to look into the cause of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

“We know, the country needs this project but we owe it to the people especially the victims.

“More than 50 people died, hundreds got injured, many made homeless. I’ve been on the ground since day two of the earthquake and am devastated with the extent of damage done here,” Mr Undialu said.

He said that though he appreciated the assistance they were receiving from the National Government, ExxonMobil and Oil Search towards the victims, they wanted this call to be taken seriously.

“Our long-term relationship will very much depend on the findings. I don’t want the projects resumes to resume operation until the companies are cleared of suspicion of any responsibility,” he said.

People are suspicious that the operator of PNGLNG project or anyone of the drilling companies may have used “Hydraulic Fracturing” or “fracking” method of drilling or waste water disposal that may have destabilised the rock structure beneath, he added. The suspicion is based on the following facts:

1. The epicentre of the earthquake is within the project areas of Hides, Angore, Juha, and Moran areas. We lost more than 50 lives in those areas. We saw massive landslips within the area especially along the Tagali river which is within the project area.

2. The earthquake was not detected by disaster monitoring group in PNG and abroad. There is history or any prediction on such earthquake.

3. The earthquake shockwaves continue for almost seven days and we are uncertain about the future.

4. No one, including the National Disaster Office, has any good answers on this issue. Some are saying, we are within the Pacific Rink of Fire. A geologist predicted it could be mountain building process whilst others blaming companies for using fracking methods. We are confused who to blame, Mr Undialu said.

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Tension forces ExxonMobil to send some workers home

LNG Project facility, Hela Province, Papua New Guinea Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

The National aka The Loggers Times | December 5, 2017

EXXONMOBIL is still keeping “essential workers only” at the Hides Gas Conditioning plant in Hela because of tension in the area last month.

A spokesperson from the company told The National yesterday that ExxonMobil was still monitoring the situation.

ExxonMobil is the operator of the US$19 billion (K374.34bil [sic]) PNG LNG project that the province hosts.

“ExxonMobil PNG is continuing to monitor ongoing tension in the Highlands (Hides, Angore, Komo) areas,” the spokesperson said.

“The safety and security of our employees, contractors and the local community is a top priority. Staffing at the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant remains at essential personnel only.

“Non-essential personnel have been relocated to other areas of business including our Port Moresby office and the LNG Plant.

“The Hides Gas Conditioning Plant is operating safely at normal production levels.”

On Nov 21, more than 100 workers from ExxonMobil working at the Hides Conditioning Plant left.

Provincial police commander Michael Welly confirmed that his officers escorted the workers to the airport to travel on the first flight out of Komo to Port Moresby.

Hela Deputy Governor Thomas Potape said that the landowners wanted to shut down the LNG project due to their prolonged outstanding benefit payments.

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PNG landowners block access to gas wells over royalty disputes

PHOTO: Landowners in PNG’s highlands cut down trees to block roads near gas wells in Hela Province. (Supplied)

Eric Tlozek and Bethanie Harriman | ABC News | 29 November 2017

Armed landowners in the Papua New Guinea highlands say they have blocked access to gas wells because of an ongoing dispute with the Government over the payment of royalties.

The landowners in PNG’s Hela province have cut down trees and blocked roads and say they have stopped police from taking back control of the area.

They are demanding the PNG Government pay them outstanding royalties, which are the subject of a protracted legal dispute.

“They have cut down trees from wellhead B to G, blocking the roads,” said Dickson Ango, the chairman of one of the petroleum development licence areas.

“The security personnel have withdrawn and landowners have taken control of that area.”

Mr Ango said the landowners were protesting the PNG Government’s failure to pay a promised 20 million kina ($AUD8 million) in royalties for the gas.

“They promised to pay to the landowners — they even wrote a dummy cheque and gave it to the landowners — but that money was not in the account,” Mr Ango said.

“They showed us the cheque and they said, you see it, you feel it, you touch it and then they withdraw it and they never pay it to us.”

PHOTO: Landowners in PNG’s highlands cut down trees to block roads near gas wells in Hela Province. (Supplied)

The PNG Government has previously said it cannot pay royalties to some landowner groups because of disputes over clan vetting and an ongoing legal case.

It has been negotiating with landowners in an attempt to resolve the disputes and prevent unrest at the project and along the pipeline.

The operator of the PNG Liquefied Natural Gas project, ExxonMobil, said its production was continuing at normal levels, but it has withdrawn all non-essential staff from the area.

“ExxonMobil PNG is continuing to monitor ongoing tension in the Highlands (Hides, Angore, Komo) areas,” a spokeswoman said.

“Staffing at the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant remains at essential personnel only.

“The Hides Gas Conditioning Plant is operating safely at normal production levels.”

Police in Hela Province were not able to be reached for comment.

A spokesman in Port Moresby said officers there were trying to resolve an unrelated dispute involving the hijacking of trucks as part of a compensation claim over the death of a young man in a traffic accident.

Hela Province has been the scene of some of PNG’s worst tribal fighting over the past four years, with provincial authorities estimating at least 200 people have been killed.

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Law and order at LNG site needs attention

Dug up highway near PNG LNG project gas plant

The National aka The Loggers Times | November 28, 2017

THE law and order issue at the LNG project site in Hela needs to be urgently addressed by the landowners, the Government and ExxonMobil, according to former Nipa-Kutubu district administrator Robin Pip.
It follows a roadblock set up by landowners from PDL1 (Petroleum Development Licence 1) in the Komo-Margarima district.
They want the Government to pay their outstanding K20 million.
Pip, also a former community affairs officer with ExxonMobil, said these issues should have been addressed before the gas production.
He said the government should have identified the genuine landowners and pay their royalties and equity accordingly.
Meanwhile, Komo-Margarima MP Manasseh Makiba presented a petition to parliament last Friday from the landowners reminding it to start the clan-vetting project and pay out the K35 million promised to them.
Makiba said the landowners of PDL 1, 7 and 8 wanted the government to address clan-vetting urgently and pay the K35m that was agreed to be paid to the landowners in a Memorandum of Understanding in August, 2006.
“The K35m and the clan-vetting was later approved in an NEC 2010/2016 decision allowing for the K35m to be paid out to the landowners and the clan-vetting to begin a week after,” he said.
“The NEC decision also tasked the Attorney-General to file applications at the National Court to set aside restraining orders. However, since then nothing has eventuated,” he said.

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Angore Shut Down, Expat Worker Held Hostage

Post Courier | November 21, 2017

Angore has been shut down for an indefinite period since last week and an expatriate worker was also held hostage as an expression of their frustration for their nonpayment of funds.

Hides Gas Development Company chairman Tuguyawini Libe Parindali yesterday (Nov 20) confirmed this with the Post-Courier.

Mr Parindali said the landowners are frustrated because government has failed miserably to honor its commitments as result as threatened to shut down operations at the Hides Conditioning Plant.

“The government now needs to fast track its clan vetting process and release the K6.7 million owed to the landowners in infrastructure and the K35 million promised money for the Investment Development Grants.

“Businesses and individuals are now facing a serious security issue and we need government’s intervention.

We will not touch the developer, they have our undivided support. All we want is for the Government to fix its outstanding issues,”  he said.

Meanwhile a spokesperson for ExxonMobil confirmed that despite rumors the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant is continuing to operate.

“ExxonMobil PNG continues to monitor the situation in Hela Province.

“The safety and security of our employees, contractors and the local community is a top priority.

Due to recent community tension in the Highlands (Hides, Angore, Komo), ExxonMobil PNG has suspended non-essential work. Non-essential personnel are being re-deployed to other areas,” the spokesperson said.

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