Gas landowners protest against ‘exclusion’

National, Normal


ANGRY landowners of the Hides and Angore gas fields in Tari, Southern Highlands province, last week staged peaceful protests at two separate sites along the Tari to Hides access road.
The landowners from the Eliminated Resources Owners Association (EROA) and Hides Resources Owners Association (HROA) staged the two separate sit-in protests on the road last Thursday at Manapa and Hapono villages in the Hayapuga LLG area.
They gave the State, through the Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) and PNG LNG developer ExxonMobil, until this Thursday to respond favourably to some of their demands before the developer and the State proceed with the licence-based benefits sharing forums (LBBS) that get underway this week.
The landowners said if the developer and the State failed to address their grievances, they would force the closure of the Hides access road.
Since the protest last Thursday, all vehicles belonging to resource developers Oil Search Ltd (OSL), ExxonMobil, Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) and other landowner companies were barred from entering and leaving Hides gas field.
When The National visited Manapa village last Thursday afternoon, EROA men, women and children had dug up the road as they braved the afternoon downpour and sat with huge banners across the road.
Their spokesman, Ezekiel Togola, presented deputy Tari district administrator James Herepa their notice paper dated Oct 13, 2009.
It was addressed to Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma with copies to National Planning, Finance and Treasury, local Hela MPs, OSL, PJV, ExxonMobil and police.
Mr Togola said their protest was over the exclusion of five of their council wards of Telabo 1 and 2, Hiwanda, Yumu, Linapini and Akau-Wayaka in Hayapuga LLG in Angore Petroleum Retention Licence (PRL) 11 border map.
He said according to the mapping issued on June 12 last year for the Angore PRL 11 structure, they were included and allocated block 1643 but in the new proposed PDL boundary for Angore dated Jan 23 this year, they were omitted.
He said instead, DPE and ExxonMobil had seen fit to include and recognise Pureni block 1642 in South Koroba and Dauli block in Hulia LLG areas which are located kilometres away from Angore field as beneficiaries with respective block numbers.
Mr Togola said that their wards were located only a few kilometres away from Angore gas field and they were surprised and angry as their block 1643 had not been included in the latest PRL 11 boundaries.
Mr Togola warned that OSL, ExxonMobil and DPE must be prepared to fly over and not trespass their territory if they did not respond to their demand.