Hides bid failed

Main Stories, National

The National- Wednesday, January 26, 2011


A GOVERNMENT delegation to the Hides 4 liquefied natural gas (LNG) conditioning plant site was told to return to Port Moresby because it comprised the wrong ministers.

While PNG LNG project operator ExxonMobil confirmed yesterday that the site would remain shut, landowners told delegation leader and Foreign Affairs Minister Don Polye and Education Minister James Marabe that they wanted ministers who they had outstanding issues with to meet with the people.

Polye and Marape were told by landowners that they were the wrong persons to go and negotiate or find facts surrounding the cause of the LNG plant site shutdown and other related issues.

Erick Ayule, spokesperson and chairman of Girira Hides 4 Joint Venture, the umbrella company of Hides 4 PDL7, told The National that the landowners expected to see Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru, State Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare, Komo-Margarima MP and Transport Minister Francis Potape, Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma, National Planning Minister Paul Tiensten, Treasurer Peter O’Neill and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.

He said the aggrieved landowners wanted to see these senior ministers who were at the forefront from day one in negotiating the multi-billion-kina LNG project.

He said although the landowners appreciated Polye and Marape for making their time available as per the prime minister’s directives, the two ministers would have no clue on the issues between the landowners, state and ExxonMobil.

“How much does Polye know about the landowners’ issue with the state and ExxonMobil?” Ayule said.

“What role did Polye and Marape play when the state team negotiated for the PNG LNG project with the resources owners?

“It is a mockery for Sir Michael to send two carpenters to an automobile workshop,” the chairman added.

Ayule said the landowners had petitioned the government through Polye to send Agiru, Potape, Somare, Tiensten, Duma and O’Neill along with:

.Their outstanding memorandum of agreement funds;

.Ministerial commitments funds;

.Infrastructure development grants;

.Their outstanding K6 million for PDL7 to be paid into their six block companies; and

.Their K1 million each commitment made by Agiru for landowner chiefs from PDL7 at the UBSA and LBBSA.

“We have given them 10 days to fulfil their promises.

“We have willingly agreed to give our gas to the state and ExxonMobil, thinking that they would honour their commitments.

“We have been told lies with undue promises just to lure us to sign off our resources.

“The LNG plant site will remain close until and unless these outstanding issues are addressed once and for all,” Ayue said.

ExxonMobil also confirmed yesterday that the plant site would remain shut while work at other project locations were progressing as they were not impacted.