Forums set to kick off

Main Stories, National


THE Licence-Based Benefits Sharing Agreement (LBBSA) forums for affected landowners in the PNG LNG project in Southern Highlands province will get under way this week.
The forums will start with landowners from the Hides Petroleum Development Licence (PDL) 1 area for the Hides gas well heads 1, 2 and 3 in Tari.
The National was taken on an aerial tour of Hides, Angore and Komo last Friday and saw tents and camps being erected near project sites in preparation for the forums.
Hides PDL 1 landowners will have their forum at the Nogoli market, near the gates of Oil Search Limited’s (OSL) Nogoli Base Camp in Tari.
A Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) source said the LBBSA forum for Hides PDL 1 was set to be launched today by Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma.
DPE officials visited the Hides and Angore project sites in the last two weeks to gauge views, position papers and demands from affected landowners to be included in the LBBSA forum this week.
The source said it was expected that not much discussion would take place during the LBBSA forum as the position papers already presented by the landowners outline what they want in terms of benefits generated from the projects.
The source said the Government had allocated about K60 million
for the LBBSA forums for Hides and Angore alone.
The source said part of the money had been used to pay for the 10 Air Niugini Dash 8 charters that DPE used to ferry landowners from Port Moresby to Tari in the last five days for the forum.
He said the money would also be used to pay for allowances for landowners who attend the forums.
He said it was believed that K5,000 would be paid per head for individual landowners who attend the LBBSA forum in the next two weeks.
He said the rest of the K60 million would go towards paying police security allowances, construction of camps, food, accommodation, hire cars and other logistical support and expenses to be incurred during the period of the LBBSA forums.
He said for Hides PDL 1, there was some resentment among landowners who demanded that the State honour its commitments made during the umbrella Benefits Sharing Agreement (BSA) signing in Kokopo in May by paying the outstanding memorandum of agreement (MoA) funds.
He said frustrated Hides landowners threatened two DPE staff on Saturday in Tari over the issue, while one DPE officer coordinating a charter aircraft for the Hides landowners was yesterday bashed  at Erima near Jackson Airport in Port Moresby when they were refused boarding on the charter to Tari.
In the last three days, ID cards were issued by DPE staff at Nogoli for only the selected landowners from Hides PDL 1 area to attend the LBBSA forum.
Hides PDL 1 landowners from two major tribes – Hiwa and Tugupa – will be attending the forum today.
The source said Hiwa would be represented by landowner leaders from Arua, Wita, Pina, Kopiye and Ware clans while Tugupa would have landowner leaders from Tuguba Tabu, Takua, Tate, Korene, Pepe and Tuguba Ware clans.
Senior DPE officials and ExxonMobil staff are being accommodated at Ambua Lodge while junior officers from DPE’s coordination branch and LNG coordination unit, as well as consultants, are being accommodated at Nogoli OSL camp together with police personnel.