MORE than 500 disgruntled landowners believed to be from Juha, Angore, Komo and Hides 4 gas fields in Tari, Southern Highlands province, converged on the ExxonMobil office in downtown Port Moresby yesterday.
They swamped the Credit Corporation building that houses the giant American company’s office, demanding an explanation to a recent “service agreement” signed between Hides Gas Development Corporation (HGDC) and Esso Highlands Ltd.
The frustrated landowners including men, women and children, turned up in truckloads and kept the rest of the traffic at bay when their hired buses and private cars filled up the road near the building.
The groups were led by chairmen of the Juha landowners association, Stanley Hogga Piawi and Heri Hengene.
They attempted to enter the main entrance of the building but were stopped by police and security officials who were called in to guard the entrance.
The landowners drafted a two-page petition stating their grievances which they delivered to some ExxonMobil officials outside the entrance.
Mr Piawi told the officials that they wanted proper explanation from ExxonMobil executives as to how and why ExxonMobil came up with the agreement and declared HGDC to become the umbrella company of the landowner groups. They questioned who owned the HGDC.
They said according to IPA company records, HGDC was not owned by all the landowners but by a Libe Parindali and 10 of his tribesmen from Hides 4.
They said they would not accept HGDC to become the umbrella company of all the other landowner groups because HGDC was incapable of managing their affairs.
Their concerns in the petition were that:
1. Shareholders in HDGC were only 12 individuals from Hides area;
2. Shares in HGDC have not been distributed to greater Hela and people from Angore, Juha, pipeline and facilities area;
3. HGDC is a family company and does not represent landowners from Juha gas field, Angore gas field, pipeline and Komo township airport development landowners; and
4. The chairman and managing director of HGDC could not be trusted to lead this company.
ExxonMobil’s officials informed the landowners that the officials who had initially signed the agreements were not around and they (ExxonMobil) would arrange a proper meeting with them today to resolve the issues.
The landowners dispersed around 6pm.