Pay us first, say Hides folks

National, Normal

FAILURE by the Petroleum and Energy Department to pay allowances to landowners has further delayed the final signing of the Hides gas project licence-based benefit sharing agreement (LBBSA) to tomorrow.
The two weeks required for the LBBSA Forum for Hides PDL 1 and Hides PRL 12 ends tomorrow.
Landowners of Hides PDL 12, which is the Hides well head 4, said yesterday that they were ready to sign the LBBSA but were still waiting for the department to pay them their allowances.
At Nogoli yesterday, landowners of Hides PDL1, which included Hides well heads 1, 2 and 3, said they were also ready to sign but wanted Petroleum and Energy Department to sort out their allowances too.
The Hides PDL 1 landowners also asked the department to look into the other outstanding issues at Hides including ownership of the land, payment of outstanding Hides MoU funds, equity, royalty and other benefits for the past 19 years since Hides gas plant provided power to Porgera gold mine.
The landowners wanted these issues settled and monies owed paid by the department before they could sign the LBBSA for Hides.
Details of the benefit distribution among the clans could not be made available.
However, Government sources at Nogoli said they were still waiting for the money to arrive from Port Moresby before they could pay the landowners.
Meanwhile, Nathan Mapiso, a Petroleum and Energy officer at Nogoli, denied news reports that the department would pay landowners K5,000 per head for attending the two-week LBBSA forum.
Asked what happened to the K60 million allocated by the Government for the LBBSA forum, Mr Mapiso said he could not comment, saying that only DPE secretary Rendell Rimua would answer the question. However, Mr Rimua refused to speak to The National when approached.
Government sources confirmed that the LBBSA signing for Hides PDL 1 and PRL 12 will be held tomorrow at the same time all allowances will be paid to the land owners.