Dispute erupts over ILGs

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, June 28, 2011

HIDES gas resource landowners in the LNG project have opposed Heritage Consultants conducting incorporated land groups (ILGs) in the absence of proper social mapping and land demarcation.
Hides leaders Simon Ekanda and Wita Arua Holding chairman Hare Hengi said yesterday Heritage Consultants would be conducing ILGs illegally and at its own risk.
Ekanda said the issues on social mapping and ILG formation “are terms of reference drafted and agreed
to by all parties, including the state, LNG project landowners, ExxonMobil and partners and which is before the alternative dispute resolution”.
Ekanda said without a SMLD, there should be not be any ILG formation.
“ILG should be the last thing.
“The first thing is the SMLD and then the ILG which then should draw up the channel in which equity and royalty payment could be shared among ILG members,” he said.
“We did not invite anyone to come and do IGL as the issue is before the ARD. Anyone who comes to our customary land will do so at their own risk.”
Hengi said the landowners wanted the state to instruct the licensee to conduct SMLD exercises before the formation of ILGs as per the Oil and Gas Act, 1998. 
“We need to know the traditional landownership boundaries between different clans in Blocks 1640/164,” he said. 
“We question the motive behind pushing for the formation of ILGs ahead of the SMLM exercises,” he
“They should not jump the gun instead follow the process as specified in the Oil and Gas Act.”
He said over the past 20 years, “Hides was run by some cowboys who do not have any trace within the PDL1 area”.
“We have so many companies and associations claiming to represent genuine landowners.
“We now have so many chiefs, chairmen, directors.
 “We already lost millions of kina in the hands of those opportunists and that mistake must not be repeated. 
“A full-scale SMLD is the appropriate avenue to prove who is who.
“Every landowner must now put their foot on the ground and prove to the government and the project
developers that they are genuine,” he said.