Tag Archives: PNG development

Major Project Agreements Must Be Reviewed To Benefit PNG

There have been many complaints of a lack of benefits coming from the LNG project Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

The Current Business Model and Tax Concessions are Cheating PNG of Revenues and Landowner Benefits

Post Courier | November 15, 2018

In the period leading up to and eventual start of the multi-billion kina PNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in 2014, there was much fanfare and grandstanding of the promise/premise that the project would single-handedly transform PNG.

In fact, the project has delivered some much-needed tangible developments in terms of major infrastructure, additional employment and spin-off business opportunities as well as foreign exchange revenue. However, there are still many unresolved issues that demand National Government’s most swift and appropriate remedial action.

On October 30 2018, it was reported (Post-Courier) complaints by Paguale Kekero resources landowners association from Southern Highlands Province over benefits from the PNG LNG project. The report referred to major clans with population of over 2000 people “left in the dark on LNG project benefits” – royalty and equity payments.

Their complaints followed a public statement on October 25 2018 by Mineral Resource Development Company (MRDC) Managing Director Augustine Mano of PNG LNG pipeline landowners receiving benefits. The concerns relate to Paguale Kekero resource owners not signing any agreement in the Umbrella Benefits Sharing Agreement under the Greenfield and future generations benefits.

The Paguale Kekero landowners concerns are among numerous other claims and counter-claims, be the genuine, not genuine or combination of both. So, the over-orchestrated myth of massive and immediate socio-economic transformation in the livelihood of resource owners, others in the project area and PNG as a whole is increasingly becoming a far-fetch tale.

PNG-wide, similar sentiments have been expressed over resource ownership, equity participation and the sharing of wealth generated from mineral, oil and gas reserves. As more resource owners become aware of their missed opportunities, there is mounting support from indigenous people for greater benefit from what is taken out of their land and sea.

They are rightly doing so because if anyone, these people and their ancestors have been living on and off that land or sea for over 40,000 years from one generation to next. Whilst PNG authorities continue to grapple with this contentious issue, plans are afoot for the ownership of resources to be transferred from the State as is the norm currently to the resource owners.

There has also been numerous calls for a comprehensive review of existing memorandum of agreements (MOAs) with project developers and provinces they are located. Some serious questions remain unanswered in the manner in which past governments proceeded to signing certain major project agreements. In fact, these are still burning issues that need government action by way of review of project agreements.

In that way, many landowner related issues and concerns, equity participation, wealth sharing and tax revenue can be addressed and resolved amicably.

The government must take heed of these concerns and start reviewing major project agreements. The underlying objective must be to cater for increased local equity participation by way of buying shares in these big resource development projects.

On May 14 2013, former Public Enterprises Minister Ben Micah while answering questions in Parliament alluded to the loss of millions of kina in tax revenue resulting from tax exemptions. Mr Micah’s comments may not have attracted much attention, but what he said then is still relevant day and needs follow-up action. There is nothing wrong for the government to admit fault, but take appropriate remedial actions to correct any wrongs of the past in PNG’s national interest and benefit.

A government decision for comprehensive review of agreements the State had entered into with developers in major projects would be well-received and welcomed nationwide. There are numerous concerns and un-answered questions that need clarification for and on behalf of the majority PNG citizens.

Today, questions are still asked why the Ramu Nickel project agreement was signed in China.

What input did relevant PNG State agencies, including Justice and Attorney General, Department of Finance, Commerce and Industry, Customs and Internal Revenue Commission and the Madang Provincial Government have in the Ramu Nickel project?

In December 2013, some agreements were reached and the review of the Ramu Nickel agreement was concluded and signed by relevant stakeholders. That is exactly why reviews in all project agreements are necessary and should be done within the time frame specified in such MOAs.

It must be mandatory and strictly adhered to by all parties. Failure by any of the parties to that MOA should be made to heavily compensate any breaches. There need to be a review of the current business model of the PNG LNG Project.

The review must reveal how exactly PNG entities and individual citizens are benefiting from all segments of the PNG LNG Project.
As it is, PNG is mostly benefiting from only one segment of the project while foreign investors take away much of the profits generated from the other segments.

This is because at the time of signing the project agreement the government then rejected outright the professional and technical advice in adopting the business plan. The LNG Project was and still is far important to the future economic health and well-being of PNG. It single-handedly underpins the future economic advancement of PNG.

This was fully recognised by then government and the technical team was task to deliver the project within the ambit of this objective. The technical team was convinced that the business model for the LNG Project had to be structured in the way, so that PNG and landowners were drivers of the projects, rather than mere bystanders, if the above objective was to be realised.

Under the business plan recommended by the technical team, The National Government, provincial governments, local level governments, landowners and other PNG citizens were to have fully participated through share equity in all segments of the project.

This means, under the aborted business model, various PNG entities and groups would have invested and benefit in all segments from upstream, pipeline, processing facilities, shipping and marketing. Unfortunately, this one-in-a-life time investment opportunities for PNG citizens was denied when the government opted to adopting a totally different business model. There were serious concerns and perception among various stakeholders that the originally well-intended ideals of this project was hijacked.

The Ministerial Committee on the LNG Project appointed by the National Executive Council totally ignored and ultimately rejected the business model recommended by the technical team.

Under the current model, the State, provincial governments and landowners are to participate ONLY at the UPSTREAM, by exercising their 22.5 per cent rights under the Oil and Gas legislation. Other than that they have no participation or interests in other segments of the project, namely pipeline, processing facility, marketing and shipping.

Under the current business model, the State and the landowners are complete bystanders, with no tangible control and ownership in the project. This business model defeats original Government policy ambition as well as political and economic aspirations of PNG.

If is it not too late and so there should be review into the business model of the PNG LNG Project to allow the National Government, provincial governments, local level governments, super funds, national owned businesses and individuals to buy shares in all segments of the project.

The current business model must be re-structured to enable maximum participation of government, landowners, and provincial governments, in all segment of the LNG Project.

Allow PNG and its citizens to retain the majority ownership of the complete PNG LNG project chain.

The government should also review the substantial tax exemptions given to the PNG LNG project. This government is in the best possible position to carry out a thorough review of all tax and fiscal exemptions granted to the developers of the PNG LNG project.

Among the concessions for review should include:

  • 30 per cent Corporate Tax rate;
  • Waiver of the 2 per cent Fiscal Stability premium;
  • Foundation Volume pf 10.5tcf;
  • State Carry;
  • Excise and Import Duty Exceptions during construction phase;
  • Special Tax Credits;
  • Applicable Interest to State’s back-in Costs; and
  • Oil to Gas Tax rate Conversion.

The concessions could well have resulted in losses of hundreds of millions of kina in State revenue. The government is morally obliged and duty bound to direct for full review of all major projects so that shares are floated for PNG owned entities and individuals buy into the projects. Then only can PNG citizens boasting of benefiting from resources found in their land and sea. Otherwise so-called landowners and PNG people are fighting among ourselves for bones and crumbs.

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Govt Concerned Over Delay On Review Of Mine Laws

The  Deputy PM needs to get his story straight. Last month he warned against rushing new mining projects saying ‘We want economic integration, but not economic exploitation’. ‘Papua New Guinea must make sure that integration takes place at a pace that allows local institutions, industry and local businesses to develop.’ If not, Abel said, ‘sophisticated financial and political capital’ will systematically dispossess the country’s natural resources and put them into the hands of foreigners’.

Now its seems he is happy to rush ahead with new mines regardless of the consequences for PNG and local communities…

Matthew Vari | Post Courier | November 8, 2018

Deputy Prime Minister Charles has expressed his concern over the prolonged review process of the proposed Mining Act amendments into the industry, citing a critical juncture in existing and new investment decisions in the sector.

He said while it is the prerogative of government to review laws, in this case 26 years since the 1992 Act was changed, he said government is aware of concerns from the mining industry which it shared as it keenly negotiates key projects such as the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture Project.

“Governments have a responsibility to periodically review legislation based on experience,’’ Mr Abel said.

“Sufficed to say that this will be an ongoing consultative process, I know there have been concerns raised by the mining industry and we take them onboard.

“But I would hope that those issues don’t affect some of the projects that are imminent.

“People have made investment decisions and commitments based on the existing legislation and I would hope that we can negotiate those projects under the existing legislation and grandfather (exempt from requirements of new legislation affecting previous rights, privileges, or practices) them.’’

He said while the mining legislative review has been under way for a long time in relation to the proposed amendments when passed should cover prospectively rather than some of the projects that are imminent.

“I would hope that that review process does not interfere too much with some of the existing ongoing negotiations of the current projects under current licensing obligations,’’ he said.

“I don’t want to get bogged down in mining reviews and legislative reviews and good projects that are in hand that can benefit the country greatly under the existing legislation should not be delayed or investors shouldn’t be punished because of a protracted process reviewing legislation.”

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Saonu Raises Concerns On Wafi-Golpu Mining Lease

Post Courier | November 9, 2018

Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu has raised concerns on the pending signing of a special mining lease between the developer of the Wafi-Golpu mine in Morobe Province and the government during the APEC summit next week.

He cited sources from social media who had released a report saying there was already a memorandum of agreement in place, established by the Mining Act.

The issue was interrupted by a court case and the signing of the special mining lease is expected to take place in 2019.

Mr Saonu directed his concerns to the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill during question time in Parliament.

“Would you please confirm or deny, whether the government has agreed to sign a heads of agreement at the APEC Summit? Why was the Morobe provincial government and stakeholders not consulted?’’ Mr Saonu asked.

‘‘If the proposed signing of the heads of agreement is true, will you inform all the stakeholders landowners, state entities and the people of Morobe on what the agreement is all about?’’

He went on to ask the prime minister if it was still necessary to continue and complete the due process and what would be the legal consequences of abandoning the process.

In response Mr O’Neill said: “Mr Speaker our government has appointed a state negotiating team. Technical people from the Mining Department, Treasury, State Solicitors office and other government agencies are dealing directly with Wafi Golpu developers, particularly Newcrest and Harmony.

“They continue to discuss the way forward in continuing to develop this mine The negotiations are still in its early stages and there have been no briefings to cabinet or to the prime minister.

“I don’t see any mine development agreement being signed around APEC and certainly any agreement that needs to be signed will be in full consultation with Morobe provincial government and the people of Wau Bulolo particularly the landowners.”

Mr O’Neill said any understanding reached with the developer was about the program going forward.

‘‘There would not be any legally binding agreement but for the benefits of investors and potential financiers of the project, the government and its developers wants to give a clear position about its intentions to develop the mine,” he said.

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Nautilus and Barrick Gold guilty of double standards

International Mining Companies have Colonial and Racist Double Standards

A case study comparing the performance of Canadian mining companies in their home country to their performance overseas has found dramatic double standards.

The the study has been published by the prestigious Peter Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia.

The report finds Canadian mining companies have been involved in major human rights violations in developing nations including slavery and forced labour, violence against unarmed protestors, sexual violence against women and gang rapes.

Despite the international condemnation of these actions, Canada has failed regulate the behaviour of its companies in their overseas operations.

The study provides a comparison of the regulatory regime for extractive companies operating in Canada versus that in Papua New Guinea.

The study shows how Canadian companies operating in Papua New Guinea, Nautilus Minerals and Barrick Gold, fail to maintain the same standards that apply in their home country.

The double standards apply across the whole spectrum of their operations including environmental assessment and consultation, forced evictions and other human rights abuses, violence and access to the courts, access to information and respect for free prior informed consent.

The report calls for mining companies to apply the same practices and standards across all countries where they operate and for accountability to be enforceable in their home nations.

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Industry to reveal real owners of mining companies by 2020

The National aka The Loggers Times | October 30, 2018

Papua New Guinea is set to reveal real owners of extractive companies.

This comes after the conclusion of an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) roadshow on beneficial ownership disclosure in Madang recently.

A beneficial owner in respect of a company means the natural person(s) who directly or indirectly owns or controls a corporate entity.

A beneficial owner is always the living, breathing human being who ultimately profits from the company’s activities, or controls the company’s activities. It is never a company, other legal entity, or a nominee/proxy.

A roadmap is being executed by KPMG – the roadmap implementation manager – to develop a reporting matrix to feature beneficial owners in PNGEITI reports starting 2020, as required by the EITI global standard.

Head of National Secretariat of EITI Lucas Alkan said: “By 2020, companies applying for or holding a participatory interest in an exploration or production of an oil, gas or mining license or contract in an EITI country must report the details of the beneficial owner, (ie the human beings who own, control or substantially benefit from these companies and interests), as well as identifying any ‘politically exposed persons’ with a direct engagement in regulating, setting laws, tax rates, negotiating contracts etc.

“More than 50 EITI member countries have published their plans for how to disclose the real owners of companies in their extractive industries, which will require establishing legal and institutional arrangements for application, including establishing registers of such real owners.

“The Madang roadshow was part of implementation of a BO roadmap to identify an appropriate reporting process to enable PNGEITI name beneficial owners in its reports.

“We had presentations from Mineral Resources Authority, Department of Petroleum, Bank of Papua New Guinea, Investment Promotion Authority, PNGEITI National Secretariat, Institute of National Affairs and the BO Roadmap Implementation Manager KPMG.

“I commend the MSG constituents and other relevant State agencies for their presentations and discussions on issues relating to revealing beneficial owners in EITI reports and the approach going forward.

“As required by the EITI global best practice standard – to report the ‘beneficial owners’ in 2020 like other EITI implementing countries – I am positive that PNG will have been fully prepared by then to meet this important reporting requirement.”

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Landowners oppose Lae’s coal-fired project

“We landowners of the Markham Valley, people of Papua New Guinea, we do not want coal-fired power or coal mining in our country”.

The National aka The Loggers Times | October 26, 2018

Markham Valley biomass landowners from Morobe have resisted the coal-fired project in Lae, spearheaded by Energy Minister Sam Basil and Lae MP John Rosso.

They travelled to Port Moresby this week to hold meetings with PNG Power Ltd and Government departments over the delay with the biomass project to which they have committed land.

Chairman Sam Meyab, of the Zif Faring Business Group, said yesterday the landowners wanted to show their support for the PNG Biomass project and to confront PPL, Energy Minister Sam Basil and Treasurer Charles Abel over the delay.

“The politicians think coal is the answer,” he said.

“We landowners of the Markham Valley, people of Papua New Guinea, we do not want coal-fired power or coal mining in our country.

“We want a clean, renewable, healthy future for our children.

“Coal has no place in PNG.

“We want renewable biomass to power our homes, not dirty coal.

“We want healthy lives, not a polluting coal-powered plant in Lae.

“We want our Government to honour its commitments – to us, to the developer, to the country, to the world.”
Meyab said the biomass project had all licences and permits, approvals and a signed power-purchasing agreement with PPL.

“We know that the biomass project sponsor Oil Search Ltd wants this project to go ahead,” he said.

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Wafi-Golpu Project To Lift Economic Growth, Says O’Neill

ECONOMIC GROWTH DOES NOT MEAN BETTER LIVES FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE

Benny Geteng | Post Courier | October 16, 2018

The Wafi-Golpu project in Morobe province and Papua LNG in Gulf province will help PNG experience a 3 per cent economic growth when productions begin, said Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Mr O’Neill said the two projects, when they start producing will boost the economy of the country at a sustainable rate.

“PNG will experience a medium growth of 3 percent. 3 percent is a sustainable growth for a country.

“The Wafi – Golpu mine will be the basis to deliver infrastructure to the province,” he said.

Mr O’Neill said with the Papua LNG Project there is good progress to deliver the project and the negotiation team is at fiscal terms of project signing and closing to pass concessions.

He said the economy is looking bright at a good economic projection of 2- 3 per cent growth.

He also said there will be no fly in fly out for employees of Wafi -Golpu.

Mr O’Neill made this statement last week during the swearing in of the Lae City Authority interim board following a recent strong stance by Morobean parliamentarians who have made it clear they do not want the practice of fly in fly out in the Wafi – Goplu project.

Mr O’Neill said the country will not repeat the same mistakes of the billion dollar LNG Project deal in Hela Province to the new projects and the leaders have now learnt from their mistakes.

“We built an international airport in Hela and that airport is only used once every month,” he said.

He said these are some instances of missed opportunities that the Government will try to avoid in the upcoming mining projects of the country.

The Prime Minister said the new Wafi – Golpu mine is a bankable project for the country to embrace.

The construction phase of the Wafi – Golpu is valued at K5 billion and is set to be one of the biggest revenue earners for Morobe province when gold production starts.

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