By ANDREW ALPHONSE in TARI
THE Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) will choose a number of landowner leaders from the Hides gas project and take them behind closed doors to sign the licence-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA) for Hides PDL 1 at Nogoli in Tari today.
Members of the police mobile squad providing security for the LBBSA forum in Hides said yesterday that due to the long delay and conflicts among landowners as well as other outstanding demands on the State by the landowners, the DPE has not succeeded in having the LBBSA signed by the landowners during the two weeks forum.
The two weeks have lapsed and the forum is now entering its third week.
Police said the DPE had decided to take only a few landowner leaders from the respective clans in the Hiwa Tugupa Hides Association into the Oil Search Ltd camp at Nogoli to sign the LBBSA.
Police said the DPE would not have the signing done publicly to avoid disturbances from disgruntled landowners.
DPE Hides LBBSA coordinator Sandy Talita and facilitator Michael Nali could not be contacted for confirmation about the closed-door signing.
With the final investment decision (FID) date (Dec 8) for the PNG LNG project fast approaching, the State, DPE and developer ExxonMobil want the LBBSA for all the project areas in the Southern Highlands completed as soon as possible.
Several landowner leaders also blamed the DPE for the delay in the LBBSA signing.
Landowners from Hides PDL 1 at Nogoli and Hides PRL 12 at Paka said they were ready to sign the LBBSA but DPE must first pay them their allowances.
“We will sign anytime as long as our allowances are in our hands,” a landowner, who requested anonymity, said.
The signing of the LBBSA for Hides PDL 1 and Hides PRL 12 is likely to be held today.
Meanwhile, DPE officials are still finalising the names list for Angore gas project landowners and have not yet started the LBBSA forum despite it being officially opened by Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma in Angore last Wednesday.
Police said DPE staff were still sorting out the attendants’ name list, ID and other logistics before they start the forum.
The forum is expected to start today.