I HAVE been following the progress of the PNG LNG project closely the landowners planning to cause unnecessary delay.
ExxonMobil and its joint-venture partners have stated clearly that production will commence by 2012 or 2013.
However, landowners are trying to delay the project and this will add additional cost.
The Government must take full responsibility to resolve any problem and ensure the project progress smoothly.
We realise that the Government did not educate the landowners concerned properly before going ahead and signed the agreement.
With continuous disruptions and security issues affecting the progress of the project, the following could happen if Government failed to fix the problems with the landowners:
1. Delay in the schedule of each phase of the project, resulting in project financiers unwilling to release the funds;
2. ExxonMobil might pull out and let the Government solve the entire problem before coming in and continue;
3. PNG will miss out on the important infrastructure development if the project ceased;
4. It will paint a bad picture for other investors/lenders for other similar projects; and
5. PNG will lose the national labour force engaged in the projects and unemployment rate will increase.
The Government must be involved and resolve landowners’ issues.
One of the solutions is to quickly pay out the promised BSA funds.
If the Government can do this in the next few weeks, the landowners will allow the project to progress.
Concerned ministers, MPs in the impact areas and even the Prime Minister must personally go to the sites and talk to the landowners.
Whatever information that is put in the media is not properly disseminated to the concerned landowners as some of them do not even speak pidgin.
Landowners will only understand when information is passed correctly in a way that they will easily understand.
So if the Government is serious about this project, then it is about time to personally talk to the landowners face to face and solve the problems.
We have a lot to lose.