PNG LANDOWNERS THREATEN SABOTAGE ON GAS PROJECT

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Southern Highlands group wants development grant issues resolved

By Stephanie Elizah

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 31, 2010) – A group of landowners of LNG project sites in Southern Highlands have warned that there will be no K50 billion PNG LNG project unless business development grant (BDG) issues are resolved.

They also warned LNG developer ExxonMobil to be prepared to vacate all project sites next week as talks of sabotaging the project spreads.

The landowners said this in response to the news of 16 legitimate landowner companies were paid a total of K89.208 million for spin-off business ventures last Thursday at March Girls resort outside Port Moresby.

LNG landowners pressure group team leader Henry Duguno, in a statement, said a recent media statement by acting Prime Minister Sam Abal that all landowner companies would be paid their seed capital did not materialise when only 16 identified companies were paid.

"Which identification process did the government use to identify these landowner companies when the legitimate landowners were still waiting outside the Vulupindi Haus to be paid?" Duguno asked.

He said the legitimate landowners were still waiting for their payment and suggested that if the state and the developer were interested in ensuring the LNG continue, all parties must revisit initial agreements signed in the LBBSA and UBSA to develop a revised agreement.

"Sentiments expressed by all leaders who took up the stage expressed that the LNG would be deterred from its early works.

"This will continue for an indefinite period until all the substantive matters in this issue are resolved amicably between the landowners, the state and the developers," Duguno said.

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