PNG GAS PROJECT ON TARGET DESPITE DISRUPTION

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Exxon-Mobil says first gas will be delivered in 2014

By Yehiura Hriehwazi PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 26, 2011) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), Exxonmobil developer of the PNG LNG project says despite the withdrawal of staff from the construction site at the Hides gas conditioning plant early works area, the project was on target to deliver first gas in 2014.

"We remain on target for first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in 2014. We have a formal dialogue process with the community to review issues and community questions. We encourage all to use this process. Violence is unacceptable," said Mr. Miles Shaw, the Public Relations Manager of the company.

The Post-Courier asked Mr. Shaw a number of questions relating to the withdrawal of staff from the early works program.

"A group of people illegally entered a Project camp in the Southern Highlands on the evening of Friday January 21. The intruders were subsequently removed by police. All personnel in the construction camp have been accounted for. Four camp residents suffered minor injuries. There was no material damage to the camp facilities and equipment," he said.

He said the motive of the invasion remained unclear; however local village leaders have apologized for the conduct of their people.

He said the police have initiated an investigation. "We are providing our full support. As a result of this illegal action, we are instituting a shut down at the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant Site. During this period, we will discuss the necessity of a safe and secure operating environment with government and local leaders and the requirement to use the well established, formal process in place to manage any dispute. Any use of violence is unacceptable, he said. Recent actions have been disruptive to the early site works but the Project remains on target to deliver first LNG in 2014. All other work sites across the project are operating as normal," he said.

Asked to explain what the established formal process of addressing issues entailed, he said: "Our field staff has regular and ongoing interactions with local communities. Should a local villager have a comment, question or complaint they document this with our local village officer who is well known to the local people. We then work to investigate the situation, discuss it with those involved and move to a solution."

Asked if this system was working, he said: "Thanks, yes we believe it is. This type of process has served all parties well in other countries in which we operate so we know it can work."

The Post-Courier also asked Mr. Shaw how much longer ExxonMobil would continue to put up with disruptions of its operations and if disruptions continue, and if it is likely to affect the first gas delivery date to China, Japan and Taiwan and this would reflect negatively on ExxonMobil and PNG?

Mr. Shaw did not respond to the questions.

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