BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
PETROLEUM and Energy Minister William Duma appears to be at odds with oil giant ExxonMobil on a National Content Plan (NCP) for the PNG LNG project.
Mr Duma says there is none, while the company insists there is one.
The NCP is crucial to the project. It sets out the business development plan in the LNG project, how much will be spent, and how stakeholders such as the provincial governments and the landowners will be involved.
“I must inform this Parliament that the National Content Plan is not ready and it has not been provided to the Government or to the landowners for comment,” Mr Duma told the House yesterday.
He told Parliament that he had asked ExxonMobil to finalise the NCP and was hoping that this would be done soon.
“I have consistently taken up the message to our development partners that they must engage our landowners to participate. I expect that ExxonMobil will be in a position to do that very soon,” he said.
He said once the NCP was disclosed, it could be perused to see if landowner firms had been “given a fair opportunity to participate in business opportunities”.
“Our landowners must be given the opportunity to participate meaningfully and fully in the development of our country,” he said.
Mr Duma was responding to questions from Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape, who asked when the Government would set up a NCP office to deal with ExxonMobil’s NCP.
Mr Duma did not give a firm answer.
He only assured Mr Potape that he was working closely with Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare to ensure that the project was delivered.
However, ExxonMobil, when contacted, told The National that the NCP was finalised and formally handed over to the Department of Petroleum and Energy on June 25.“Additionally, there have been numerous meetings with Government officials including MPs, departments and the Prime Minister on national content,” Stuart Symons, senior public and Government affairs adviser PNG LNG, said.
He said the firm’s community affairs and business development representatives had discussed business opportunities with landowners in the project areas.
“This communication is ongoing,” Mr Symons said, adding that in March, ExxonMobil had a communication roadshow on national content, including workforce development and local business development.
It was held at 26 locations throughout the project area, with more than 3,000
people attending, he said.
He said this would be sustained at the Licence-Based BSA forums in the Highlands, where job and business opportunities would also be discussed.
Mr Symons said communication with landowners about national content would continue after the forums on an ongoing basis.
The NCP is a vital framework that will facilitate workforce training for project construction and ongoing operations and purchasing local goods and services where possible.
Building local supplier proficiency, including an improved safety focus, assisting the development of health, education and agriculture projects in the communities will also be part of the NCP.