FOE Landowners’ attempts to stop the Licence-Based Benefits Sharing Agreement (LBBSA) development forum from taking place in Kutubu has been denied by the Waigani National Court.
Kutubu landowner leader Hami Yawari, on behalf of Foe landowners, went to court yesterday seeking to restrain the development forum from going ahead until all outstanding MoAs (memorandum of agreement) and SSG (special support grants) under the Kutubu Development Agreement were honoured by the State.
Ignatius Mambei from Henao Lawyers representing Foe Landowners submitted that outstanding MoA and SSG funds for Kutubu landowners came about in a separate contract or agreement between the State and landowners in the revised Kutubu Petroleum Development Agreement.
Mr Mambei argued his clients came to court due to the fact that the Umbrella Benefits Sharing Agreement in Kokopo was signed on the understanding that outstanding MoA and SSG funds would be paid before the licence-based development forum.
He said this was not honoured by the State while the LBBSA was currently happening for portion 152 for Central province.
Mr Mambei said the LNG project would start from Kutubu as it had existing facilities in place for the first extraction of gas.
Lawyer for Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) Greg Manda asked the court to adjourn to next Monday as there were similar matters that had come up before Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika, who would address all these issues by that time.
Justice Pomat Paliau also asked Mr Yawari’s lawyer when the BSA was held and it had been two months with nothing done by the Department of Petroleum and Energy on landowner identification and social mapping.
Justice Paliau refused to grant any interim orders opting for the matter to go with all other landowner disputes before Justice Salika next Monday.
Mr Yawari said outside the court he supported the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project but maintained that he went to court to ensure that the Oil and Gas Act must be complied with.
He said that at the moment there were no legitimate landowners because of the failure by DPE to conduct social mapping and landowner identification as provided under Section 47 of the Oil and Gas Act.
Mr Yawari said Kutubu landowners under PDL 2 (Petroleum Development Licence) were also covered by the Kutubu Agreement which the State had failed to honour its outstanding commitments forcing him to court.