Agiru reminding Exxon to comply with the law

Letters, Normal

I REFER to the letter “No point crying over spilt milk, Agiru” (March 23) by Wotekep Kangtekep.
The author seems to raise unfounded allegations from his misconception that Mr Agiru controls the systems and procedures in which the proponents of the LNG project shall operate within.
Mr Agiru is only part of the Government representing the people of Southern Highlands and Hela.
It is the PNG Government that (for the State), in its wisdom, entered into the Gas Agreement in May 2008 with ExxonMobil and other joint venture partners.
One would reasonably assume that the State entered into the agreement with all due care and diligence.
If the author and other like-minded people were aggrieved by the terms of the agreement, or that the State was negligent in representing the interest of the people of PNG, they had the opportunity to challenge the validity of the agreement in court before the final investment decision was made by the developers. 
The author did not seem to understand the context in which Mr Agiru asked ExxonMobil how much of the US$15 billion investment in the project would remain in PNG.
Mr Agiru questioned ExxonMobil in the context of its National Content Plan, an important document which underpins the essence of the LNG project, concerning local participation, including affected provincial governments and landowners. 
It is a mandatory requirement under the Oil and Gas Act for developers such as ExxonMobil to come up with a National Content Plan and show how affected provincial governments, landowners and local businesses at large would participate in the LNG project.
Such a question by Mr Agiru to ExxonMobil was not out of the ordinary.
He was simply asking the developers to comply with the law in the interest of his people and the nation at large.
The question of whether he is or has been genuine or not concerning the LNG project is something which we cannot see without tangible evidence to show the contrary.
However, one thing is certain.
Mr Agiru single-handedly, backed by a few highly intelligent Papua New Guineans, with the help of the print media, fought against the PNG-Queensland gas project.
He wanted all hydrocarbons produced in PNG to be processed locally and exported overseas.
He succeeded beyond the author’s doubt.
Had it not been for his audacity and shrewd political leadership at the BSA forum in Kokopo, the State would not have given in and increased by 5% royalty benefits from a mere 2%.
Mr Agiru is only an MP representing the people of Southern Highlands and Hela.
He does not control the regulatory mechanisms governing the oil and gas industry that would help translate the terms of the Kokopo BSA into fiscal benefits for the landowners or affected provincial governments.
If people are aggrieved by any of the agreements entered into between the State and ExxonMobil or between the State and the landowners to date concerning the LNG project, there are appropriate forums in the country where they can seek redress.


Puria Igini