Don’t use force to resolve LNG shut down, warns PNG opposition

Don Polye urges Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his key economic ministers to travel to the LNG project site in Hela for talks with the aggrieved landowners. Image: Don Polye/ PNGLoop

By Peter S. Kinjap in Port Moresby

Opposition leader Don Polye says he was informed about government plans to use the police and army to confront the shut down of the PNG LNG Project in the Hela province.

Polye warned the government not to use security force but to negotiate to resolve the issue.

“The insensitive prime minister, Finance Minister James Marape, Planning Minister Charles Abel and Treasury Minister [Patrick] Pruaitch must not use the disciplined forces to contain the situation.

“Their engagement will not solve any problem. It will exacerbate the situation,” said Polye.

He said the shutdown of the Hide gas plant by angry landowners over the delay in the LNG project related funds reflected the government’s “incompetency”.

“I call on the prime minister and his key economic ministers to deal with landowner issues honestly and justly.

“When I was in government, I handled their grievances with care and prudence.

‘Blind eye’
The shutdown of the LNG Project stems from a demand by prominent businessman and landowner leader of Hides PDL 1, Larry Andagali, who has supported the calls by Hides PDL 7 landowners to end the LNG project indefinitely.

Andagali said PDL 1 landowners would join as well, because he claims the Government has taken more than six-years to kick-start the PNG LNG Project since the signing of the final licence-based benefits sharing agreements on December 7, 2009.

A landowner representative making the final call to shut down the valve stations and condensation plant. Image: Supplied/Peter Kinjap
A landowner representative making the final call to shut down the valve stations and condensation plant. Image: Peter Kinjap

Andagali says the government has turned a “blind eye” on its people through the slow clan vetting and landowner identification process.

He said the provincial government supported a National Executive Council (NEC) approved “beneficiary group” to negotiate and manage the 4.27 percent Kroton equity, which does not represent the PDL1 landowners’ interest.

“ExxonMobil and Oil Search must comply to our call and shut down the project. So far we have been patient and guaranteed 250 loads of LNG cargo, which is in the billions of kina [PNG currency] and to date, landowners have not seen our benefits.

“We do not want confrontation. If this call is not adhered to, then you face the full force of LNG landowners and we are now calling on all landowners from Papa Lea Lea to Juha to join forces,” Andagali further said.

Andagali said social mapping and landowner identification process is the number one procedure any developer should follow under law.

Failed project
Andagali thinks the developers have failed in this project. This process will identify legitimate clans and their leadership is crucial to carrying out the following:

  • Develop their future generation’s benefit management trust
  • Develop infrastructure development plan to spend K$120 million per annum in Infrastructure Development Grants (IDG-previously called MoA funds)
  • Develop proper umbrella company structure to manage 30 percent of its community investment programs from their two percent royalty and two percent free equity benefits
  • Develop proper ILG cash distribution processes so that 40 percent cash component of royalty and equity benefits are paid direct into the clan ILGs accounts.
  • Raise Kroton equity by 4.27 percent.

Chained lockdown
Meanwhile, angry landowners from Hides area in the Hela province have forced ExxonMobil to shutdown the gas conditioning plant and wellheads in the PDL-17 area.

Sources from ExxonMobil in Komo, in the Hela province, confirmed this after the LNG condensation plant confirmed the shutdown of its six valves along the main 292km pipeline from Hides to Omati landfall.

Landowners issued ExxonMobil to shutdown the control room, but if they do not receive any cooperation, they are prepared to go in and shut the control room themselves.

The locked main entrance into the ExxonMobil camp in Komo area. Image: Supplied/Peter Kinjap.
The locked main entrance into the ExxonMobil camp in Komo area. Image: Peter Kinjap.

All entries into the plant site have been chained and locked down and more trees were cut down along the pipeline corridor to stop anyone from entering the sites.

Temporary shelter is erected at the front of the gate entrance into the plant site and wellheads.

The situation is tense at Komo with aggravated landowners minding the gate and gas valves in hides area.


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