Gobe siege into 12th day

National, Normal

The National, Monday 19th December 2011

INTERRUPTION to work at the Gobe petroleum development licence (PDL 3-4) in the LNG project enters its 12th day without any sign of ending.
Rebecca Arnold, the media and communication adviser for Esso Highlands Ltd which operates the multi-billion kina project, last Friday said there was no change in the situation at Gobe.
“Several individuals remain on the sites at the nearby camp of landowner company Gobe Field Engineering,” Arnold said.
She said the impact to the projects “are localised at this time while the police and other appropriate authorities remain on site”.
“The primary issue regarding the occupation appears to be government commitments related to oil project memorandum of agreement,” she said.
On Dec 8, operations of early works at Gobe 4 (PDL) were halted after aggrieved landowners walked into construction sites at Kaiam, Kopi, on the Gulf side, and the main oil valve in Gobe and shut them down.
During the siege, a number of vehicles were vandalised and equipment stolen but no injuries were reported.
There was a report of workers being evacuated to Port Moresby but sources at the sites said a skeleton crew remained on the sites.
Gobe PDL4 chairman Jerome Kairi and other project segment landowners chairmen confirmed at the weekend that the project remained closed.
Kairi said the Gobe project was strategic for the LNG project route and the government needed to look into the issues.
“Gobe is the gateway to the oil and LNG supply from Hides PDL1 and 7, Moran PDL5 and 6, Angore PDL 8, Juha PDL9 and Kutubu PDL,’’ he said.
“The government cannot play around with us. The successive governments have failed to honour their commitments for the past 20 years.
“Given the strategic location of the project, the government should adhere to our demands contained in the petition delivered last week through the Department of Petroleum and Energy and act quickly to deliver our outstanding MoA commitment valued over K300 million.”
A leader from the Gulf side of the Gobe project, said more than 500 landowners  from the 14 clans recognised by the National Court through the alternative dispute resolution stormed the facilities.
“We will not leave the facilities until our outstanding MoA funds are released,” he said.
 Two Department of Petroleum and Energy officers were reportedly flown to the sites last week but were asked to return after failing to convince the landowners to reopen the project.