Don’t blame the govt: Pok

Business

the Government should not be blamed for the non-payment of royalties to landowners of the PNG LNG Project, says Petroleum Minister Dr Fabian Pok.
He was responding to a report in the Australian Financial Review which quoted Oil Search chairman Rick Lee as saying the Papua New Guinea government was responsible for the payment of benefits from the PNG LNG venture.
In a statement yesterday, Oil Search said the report was misleading and that the “words used in the articles also do not represent the views of Oil Search but those of the journalists concerned”.
Pok said: “Oil Search is a foreign company, investing in the oil and gas industry and has been the biggest beneficiary of the country’s wealth for many years.”
He said development levies had been paid, however, some royalties had not been paid because they were locked up in court cases due to the delayed landowner identification process.
“Section 47 of the Oil and Gas Act states very clearly that the developers are responsible for identifying who the beneficiaries are, before any project development forums or gas agreements are negotiated,” Pok said.
He said that social mapping and landowner identification processes were rushed through in the case of the PNG LNG Project and the Government had been left to deal with the subsequent social problems that had arisen since construction began in 2010.
Those problems, he said, had been made worse by hard economic times due to falling oil, LNG and mineral prices, weather-related el nino and the earthquake.
He called on Oil Search to clarify the exact amounts paid in the different benefit streams, and provide the names of the beneficiaries of about K14 billion paid in royalties, levies, taxes and equity as disclosed by the company.

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