ANGRY PNG MOB HOLDS PETROLEUM WORKER HOSTAGE

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Demand audience with Energy Minister over compensation

By Patrick Talu PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 22, 2009) – In Papua New Guinea, disgruntled landowners from the multi-billion kina Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in the Hela region held a staff of Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma and grounded his car over outstanding memorandums of agreement (MoA) funds yesterday.

The terrified staff, who was in the company of Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape, was pulled out of his car by landowners, who demanded him to call Mr. Duma to come and address them at Vulupindi Haus, which houses Finance, Treasury and National Planning Departments.

The landowners held Mr. Duma’s officer hostage until the National Capital District (NCD) police intervened late in the afternoon.

Landowners representing Hides Petroleum Detention Licence (PDL1), Petroleum Retention Licence (PRL) 11 (Angore Block 1641), Moran PDL 5; Southeast Kope PDL 4, PRL 7 (Hides) and Juha, who have been waiting for two weeks, said if the Government failed to honour the commitment within three days, they had no option but return home and stop the project.

They are demanding 300 million kina [US$111.3 million] they say is owed to them by the Government.

"The Government, during the licence-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA) and Kokopo multi-billion dollar benefit sharing agreement (BSA), said they would deliver the commitments but they have lied to us," Anthony Hamoka, chairman for Keya ILG (Moran PDL 5), said.

But an insider from the Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) last night said that landowners from Hides PDL 1, Juha, Angore 2642 and Moran PRL 7 were not entitled to receive any funds.

He said they would only receive money once the LNG project got underway, in accordance with the benefits sharing arrangement now in place.

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