BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
THE PNG LNG project is set to be realised as the Government yesterday disbursed more that K3 million to landowners of portion 152.
The payment is the first of outstanding business development grants and seed capital promised by the Government during the Kokopo Benefits Sharing Agreement in May.
The payment was described by Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma as “historic”.
Portion 152 includes LNG liquefaction plant, storage and loading facilities located near Port Moresby and consists of the Papa, Rea Rea, Porebada and Boera villages.
These Motuan villages will equally share benefits received from hosting the plant site of the PNG LNG project during its lifespan.
Landowner firms Papa Resource Development Ltd, Boera Holdings Ltd, Buria-Lealea Caution Bay Ltd and Porebada Holdings Ltd each received K873,600, which is 20% of the final sum, promised.
Mr Duma described the disbursement as historic and one that sets the precedence for the multi-billion kina PNG LNG project.
“The landowners are an integral part of the project and the best scenario is for the agreement to come from the landowners,” he said.
Mr Duma said the disbursement reflected the Government’s commitment in ensuring the project got off the ground.
“Our plant site landowners were the first to conclude the LBBSA forums and are now the first to receive the promised business development grants,” he said.
The payment would assist landowner firms meaningfully participate in the early works of the LNG project.
The message to landowner firms was that “funds must be used wisely to ensure that benefits are sustained for immediate and future generations”.
Mr Duma assured that the balance would be disbursed before the signing of the final investment decision by developer ExxonMobil on Dec 8.
“You have set the pace and you have set the example for an historic moment in the life of this project and the nation as a whole,” he told landowners.
Portion 152 landowners, according the Mr Duma, have set the benchmark and set history “in terms of process and commitment”.
Petroleum and Energy Department secretary Rendle Rimua added “it is a very big opportunity as the plant location plays an important role in the lifespan of the current and any future projects”.
He urged landowners to collaborate and ensure meaningful results were derived from the benefits.
In the coming days, other landowners will receive their share in preparation for the LBBSA forums to be held in Southern Highlands before ExxonMobil makes its final investment decision on Dec 8.
Papa Resources Development Ltd chairman Heni Goro welcomed the payment and agreed that it “paves the way for early works to progress at the PNG LNG plant site”.