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Fears about safety and landowner issues worry financiers

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, February 5, 2009) – Some international financiers visiting the proposed LNG project have voiced fears about safety and landowner issues.

These two key areas of concern during last week’s tour by an international group of potential lenders, financiers and credit rating agencies.

The VIPs flew in on a chartered jet and saw sites for the project in the Southern Highlands and near Port Moresby.

While the visitors were pleased with what they heard and saw about the project, they were equally concerned about the need toaddress landowner issues and security concerns.

The financiers visited Papua New Guinea as part of a due diligence process to the Liquefied Natural Gas project.

The high-powered delegation from export credit agencies was here as part of a five-day visit to Brisbane and PNG as potential lenders to the project.

The Post-Courier understands the State is rolling out an awareness program within the affected project areas on the benefits sharing agreement, however, there has been a constant flow of negative publicity locally from the various factions of landowner groups, all claiming to be the genuine ones.

This is easily picked up by investors via the internet and it is hard for them to distinguish between genuine landowners and the ones forcing their way in.

The project is considered crucial to the economic future of PNG and all parties – State, landowners and developers need to work together to move the project forward, say government officials.

Last week, the paper managed to speak to three potential investors from Japan and the United Kingdom (named) at the Crowne Plaza.

This was despite the ban on talking to the visitors.

Landowners’ issues and security were critical as raised that:

SECURITY of supply as well as security of the plant and facilities for the proposed project were critical and needed to be ensured they were protected.

LANDOWNER issues are also critical – need to identify the genuine landowners and have them participate rather than trying to entertain landowners that are not genuine – thus creating a conflict between themselves which may harm the project. "PNG is potentially a very rich country ... (hesitantly) ... landowner issues, security will have to be addressed by the Government of Papua New Guinea," one of the international visitors said.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

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