Government admits to rushed gas agreement

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The National – Monday, January 31, 2011

THE government has admitted to resource owners and the people of Papua New Guinea that the PNG liquefied natural gas project agreement signing was rushed.
Newly appointed minister responsible for all LNG matters relating to outstanding memorandum of agreements (MoA), ministerial commitments, seed capital finds, infrastructure development grants and other outstanding issues, Deputy Prime Minister Sam Abal, made the admittance last Friday to landowners at the Unagi
oval in Port Moresby.
“Mipela government i tok sori long rasim PNG LNG agreement mipela i sainim (we, in government, are sorry for the rushed PNG LNG agreement that was signed),” Abal said.
He said there was immense pressure to get the project to first gas within limited time to secure markets against competing LNG projects in the region.
The window of opportunity for PNG’s gas to secure lucrative markets would have closed had PNG taken longer to bring the project on stream.
Abal said due to these pressures, the government had no choice but to conform to the will of the developer and entered into the PNG LNG agreement.
He admitted that the current LNG-related issue between the government, ExxonMobil and the landowners was the direct outcome of that rushed agreement.
The deputy prime minister, who is also minister for works and MP for Wabag, stressed that since the mistake was already made, there was no option but to address the consequences.
Thomas Gamu, the man who had been mobilising LNG project landowners to fight for their rights and benefits, asked Abal how they would be compensated.
“Now that the LNG agreement has been rushed and cheaply sold away, the government must tell us as resource owners, Hela, and the people of PNG how we will be compensated for selling our gas cheaply.
“Our resource has been cheaply and hastily sold off by our government.
“It is a great failure on the part of the government to protect its interest and its sovereignty than serving the interest of foreign-owned companies,” Gamu said.