Angry PNG Landowners Storm Gates Of ExxonMobil Gas Plant

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Operations at Hela Province plant not impacted by protest

By Andrew Alphonse

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 30, 2015) – Angry Hides landowners yesterday stormed the gates of the multi-billion kina PNG LNG project’s Hides gas conditioning plant site in Komo, Hela Province.

They staged a peaceful sit-in protest at the gates of the plant.

The protest disrupted the movement of workmen and vehicles belonging to developer ExxonMobil (PNG) Ltd and other international contractors from travelling in and out of the plant site.

It did not affect the actual operations of the plant.

ExxonMobil could not comment yesterday. Hela provincial police commander acting Mark Yangen confirmed the protest when contacted from Tari yesterday.

Chief Superintendent Yangen met the landowners who gave ExxonMobil and the State one week to respond to a series of petitions and demands.

A landowner leader Jackson Waruni from Tuguba Muya clan said they delivered a petition last week to Exxon and relevant State departments in Port Moresby to respond to their demands.

When the date lapsed yesterday, frustrated landowners both from the Hides PDL 1 and Hides PDL 7 areas went in huge convoy of truckloads while others marched to the plant site and staged the protest.

Mr Waruni said the landowners are frustrated over failed commitments and years of ignorance over their outstanding payments in royalties and other benefits as spelled out in the umbrella benefit sharing agreement (UBSA) signed in Kokopo in May 2009 and the benefit sharing agreement forums that followed at respective project sites that year.

Violence was prevented by the heavy presence of armed PNG Defence Force soldiers and police mobile squad who are engaged by developer ExxonMobil to provide security and any uprisings in the project sites from disgruntled landowners.

"If there were no police and soldiers present, there could have being some troubles.

"There were 3000-plus people who went to protest at the gates of the Hides conditioning plant sites. "We just exported 100th LNG cargo and still the landowners are not paid their dues. "That is the main reason of the protest," a prominent Hides landowner figure said. ExxonMobil workers met the protestors and took their petitions which they said would be delivered to relevant government agencies. Under the UBSA agreement, the parties agreed that before the LNG gas tap is opened, the landowners will have to be paid their royalties and equity but they claimed this had not been done.

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