ANDREW ALPHONSE in NOGOLI-HIDES
LANDOWNERS of the Hides PDL1 are frustrated that the licence-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA) forum for the PNG LNG project in Nogoli near Tari, Southern Highlands province, is yet to begin.
Four days after Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma launched the forum, the Department of Petroleum and Energy has not yet commenced the discussions.
Landowners who have fronted up at the gates of the Nogoli Oil Search Ltd base camp are getting restless.
Landowner leader Simon Tari Ekanda from the Hiwa Tugupa Hides Association told The National yesterday at Nogoli that the landowners were running out of patience and were frustrated over the delay.
Mr Ekanda said if the PNG LNG project failed to meet the Dec 8 timeline, it was not because of the landowners but the blame should rest with the DPE and developer ExxonMobil.
Mr Ekanda said there had been no clear instructions, communications or dialogue between DPE, ExxonMobil and landowners on why the Hides PDL1 LBBSA forum had been delayed.
DPE sources at Hides could not be reached for comments but police providing security for the forum said the delay was due to the large number of landowner leaders wanting to gain access to the forum.
Police said landowners were fighting to get their names on the list for the forum and, thus, the DPE was finding it difficult to finalise the list before it could proceed with the forum.
A source in ExxonMobil, who requested anonymity, blasted the DPE for the delay, saying the staging of the forum was the sole responsibility of the State through the DPE, and as the developer, they had no say in when and how the forum should be conducted.
The source said many of the DPE staff and consultants recruited for the forum were inexperienced young people who lacked the skills and knowledge on landowner issues and how to coordinate forums of such magnitude.
Meanwhile, Tari-based police mobile squad 09 members providing security for the forum at Nogoli said they had not encountered any major security problems so far apart from a few disturbances by landowners rushing to get their names registered for the forum.