By BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS at Nogoli, Hides
THE landowners of Hides petroleum retention licence 12 (PRL12) area have signed the Licence-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA).
The signing, unlike other forums, saw landowner leaders from different clans scramble to be the first to put pen to paper.
Shortly after Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma and Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru signed, landowners did not want to sign according to the list given and a verbal commotion ensued.
After the commotion subsided, and an agreement was reached, the leaders were called up in sets of five to sign.
The signing started shortly after 3pm and went on into the night.
More than 1,000 landowners signed, including women and church representatives.
Prior to signing, the landowners raised several issues that included resettlement of villagers along the service roads, clan-vetting and the setting up of incorporated land groups.
Their main concern was that ILGs must be formed as soon as possible to pave way for landowner associations and landowners umbrella firms to be set.
This is because once these were set, the State will make a down payment of 20% of business development grants (BDGs).
The total BDG is K15 million.
Besides the issues raised, the landowners were happy that the State recognised them as part of the LNG project separate from petroleum development licence (PDL) 1.
Mr Duma thanked landowners for their participation and assured them that the side issues raised would be sorted out in due course and process.
Mr Agiru also assured landowners that he had received a copy of developer, ExxonMobil’s, resettlement plan.
He added that he had received a copy of the National Content Plan, which he said would develop the area.
PRL12 will become PDL7 shortly, after several formalities, including gazettal are undertaken.
Petroleum and Energy secretary Rendle Rimua confirmed this with The National.
He also expressed delight that LBBSA forums had achieved the desired outcomes so far and DPE looked forward to completing the forums before next Tuesday, when the final investment decision by the developer is made.
Gobe is expected to be signed today, while PDL1 will be done this afternoon or tomorrow.