By SHEILA LASIBORI
CONSTRUCTION work in parts of Southern Highlands province for the PNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) project has been halted to allow adjustments to project security plans, the developer announced yesterday.
This action was taken by the project consortium, led by operator Esso Highlands Ltd, in response to a continuing series of violent incidents in the areas, Miles Shaw, spokesman for the LNG project, said.
But work is continuing as normal at Portion 152 in Central province, on the outskirts of Port Moresby, where the LNG plant will be located, despite the killing of five youths there over a land dispute on Jan 31.
Mr Shaw said the project was committed to ensuring a safe work environment for its employees, contractors and the communities in which they worked.
“The safety and security of our workforce and the communities in which we operate are of the utmost importance and we will be working with community leaders, the police and the provincial and national governments to help provide a safe and secure working environment for all concerned.
“Work will re-commence when it is deemed safe to do so,” Mr Shaw said.
The National yesterday reported a gun battle between members of the police Mobile Squad (MS09) unit and heavily armed villagers on Saturday morning in the vicinity of the Kobalu forward base camp for the project in Tari.
It lasted for an hour but no one was hurt in the battle.
The Kobalu camp would be the supply centre for the early works and construction of the project.
It was reported that the local men tried to ambush police officers who travelled to the area after receiving information that there had been armed hold-ups along the highway.