"We declare our first goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others".

- Papua New Guinea National Goals and Directive Principles

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Sinopec Shenzhen Escort Signs LNG Agreement with Exxon Mobil

Economic News (Information Agency Oreanda), December 27, 2011 Tuesday

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) announced Wednesday that its subsidiary China International United Petroleum & Chemical Co., Ltd. (Unipec) has signed a liquified natural gas (LNG) framework agreement with Exxon Mobil Corp.

According to the framework, Sinopec agreed to import 2 million tons of LNG from Exxon Mobils project in Papua New Guinea each year.

The two companies are working together towards a final agreement, according to the announcement.

Wang Zhigang, senior vice president of Sinopec said that all the resources from the project in Papua New Guinea will be sent to the receiving terminal station of LNG that was established by Sinopec in Qingdao, Shangdong Province. He hopes that both sides can final this agreement as soon as possible.

The Papua New Guinea project was an integrative project that includes the oil production and post-processing facility, the oil pipeline on the land and in the seas, and all LNG factory plants.

Sinopec is an integrated chemical engineering and energy company that is publicly listed in Hong Kong, New York, London and Shanghai. By the turnover of 2008, Sinopec was one of the largest oil refiners in Asia.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Carve-Up of PNG: Western Province is Next

It would appear official, PNG is for sale and investors are excited. Writing in the Wall Street Journal David Winning claims: “Papua New Guinea has been transformed into a playground for the energy industry’s big beasts seeking gas reserves that can be developed and shipped to Asia’s booming economies”. Now the ‘big beasts’ have set their sites on Western Province, which contains a major gas reserve which Talisman Energy hopes to tap.
To date Talisman state they have acquired interests in 12 licences covering an area of more than 15 million acres. The company’s Vice President Dave Nolan claims: “The government and  communities within our licence  areas are keen on development.  We are working with all stakeholders to ensure social and environmental impacts are assessed and addressed”.
Of course, communities in Western Province are keen on development (especially the glossy version sold by eager mining companies), after all this is one of the ‘poorest’ and most remote regions in PNG. To this end, investments from foreign capital may be welcomed by some landowners. However, given the Exxonmobil LNG project experience, where even by the national government’s own admission* the memorandum of agreement with landowners was rushed, we hypothesise that villagers will not be empowered to make well-informed choices.
Indeed, this is part of the charm perhaps. With a government who acts as an investment partner, and not a regulator, landowners are left in the position where they have to try and negotiate with both state and capital. Given the complex legal and economic calculations this involves, a well resourced country would find this difficult, let alone village people who have poor access to education, information-technology or for that matter roads. As a result, they may sign, but this does not equal consent, something which Exxonmobil are discovering, much to the horror of their senior management, who are attempting to keep landowner resistance quite.
Now that the sharks are circling Western Province, this is clearly an issue to watch in 2012!

*It was stated in January 2011 by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Sam Abal: "Mipela government i tok sori long rasim PNG LNG agreement mipela i sainim (we, in government, are sorry for the rushed PNG LNG agreement that was signed)".

Appendix - General Information on Western Province

Source: National Research Institute (2010)

Talisman Seeks PNG Partner

  Talisman Seeks PNG Partner
David Winning, The Wall Street Journal, 28 December 2011

Papua New Guinea may look a one-trick pony in global gas markets, with only the ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project under construction. But Talisman Energy’s move to bring in a partner on its acreage in the country is a reminder that there are other games in town.
Talisman has appointed Sydney-based advisory firm RFC Corporate Finance to find an investor for four licenses in the forelands of western Papua New Guinea, which contain a mix of gas discoveries and exploration targets. The company reckons it can aggregate between 2 trillion and 4 trillion cubic feet of gas in Papua New Guinea–enough to underpin a single unit producing liquefied natural gas, or LNG, for export.
“Our intent was always to seek a strategic partner in what is a very large license interest position, once sufficient resources have been aggregated,” said Dave Mann, a spokesman for Calgary-based Talisman. “RFC represents a formal process to execute on this.”
Once a frontier region for exploration, Papua New Guinea has been transformed into a playground for the energy industry’s big beasts seeking gas reserves that can be developed and shipped to Asia’s booming economies. Talisman drove that process in the forelands area in 2009 and 2010, completing deals such as the US$177 million acquisition of Rift Oil and taking stakes in gas discoveries owned by ASX-listed Horizon Oil.
According to a BP study, Papua New Guinea had 15.6 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves of natural gas at the end of 2010. That figure likely underestimates the true resource as Papua New Guinea has been lightly explored up to now.
Talisman is offering to sell a 50% interest in the PPL 235 and PPL 261 licenses, which it wholly owns, and 10% stakes in the PRL 4 and PRL 21 blocks. RFC is calling for binding bids to be submitted by the end of January.
PPL 235 contains the Puk Puk, Douglas and Langia discoveries that contain a combined 2.4 trillion cubic feet of gas in place. Three exploration wells have been drilled so far in PPL 235, which it acquired through the Rift Oil takeover, and all have discovered natural gas.
“The exploration activity in these blocks has matured a series of drillable prospects with exciting prospective resource potential, and we are looking for a partner with a similar vision to Talisman for aggregation of gas resources in the PNG Foreland,” Mann says.
PRL 4 and PRL 21 also contain discovered resources, but the near-term focus is on developing reserves of condensate there with a view to bringing the gas to market later.
For now, Talisman is keeping its options open on a route to market for the gas. It could pipe gas to the US$15.7 billion PNG LNG project to support an expansion there. In its first phase, PNG LNG will have a annual production capacity of 6.6 million tons of LNG, with shipments to customers in Japan, Taiwan and China due to begin in 2014.
Piping the gas to PNG LNG is attractive because it would likely be cheaper than building and operating an onshore plant, or locating a floating LNG vessel in the Gulf of Papua.
But to strengthen its hand in any negotiations with Exxon and joint venture partners like Santos and Oil Search, Talisman likely needs an alternative route to market. If it succeeds in attracting a strategic partner with deep pockets, such as from China or Japan, then it opens doors for potential financing of a standalone LNG development.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Occupiers slow down operations at PNG LNG site

Radio New Zealand, 23 December, 2011

The operator of the multi-billion dollar liquified natural gas project in Papua New Guinea says it is hoping for a quick resolution after a group of landowners stormed one of its key project sites in the Hela province.

The chairperson of the Gobe landowners group, Jerome Kairi, estimates about 12-hundred now occupy the Gobe Field Engineers camp site.

Mr Kairi says they have given the government and operator of the LNG project ESSO Highlands Ltd, 48 hours to meet commitments made to landowners, such as infrastructure improvements and development grants.

But the ESSO Highlands Ltd spokesperson Rebecca Arnold says the grievances do not relate to the natural gas project.

“The primary issues really relate to government commitments around oil project memorandum’s of agreement. The PNG LNG project is obviously very hopeful of a quick resolution to the issue.”

Rebecca Arnold says operations have slowed down at the site in Gobe as a result of the occupation.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Landowners Threaten to Close the LNG Project

PNG Landowners Issue Ultimatum Over LNG Developments

Radio New Zealand, 23 December, 2011

The head of a landowners’ group in Papua New Guinea’s Hela province claims they will shut down the huge liquified natural gas project if their demand is not met.

Aggrieved landowners stormed a key LNG project site on December the 8th, and the chairperson of the Gobe landowners group, Jerome Kairi, estimates 12-hundred now occupy the Gobe Field Engineers camp site.

Mr Kairi says they have given the government and operator of the LNG project Esso Highlands, until Saturday to meet commitments made to landowners, such as infrastructure improvements and development grants.

“I haven’t got any undertaking from both Esso Highlands and the government as to what understanding we are to reach. If that fails then the whole oil operation and the whole LNG operation would have to come to a stop and we are going to demand the company to evacuate and have the project closed forever.”
Jerome Kairi.

The Esso Highlands spokesperson Rebecca Arnold says the main issue is around government commitments to historic oil project memoranda of agreement, which do not relate to the LNG gas project.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

2000 Landowners Storm LNG Project Site

Key LNG Prject Site in Gobe Under Threat
John Pangkatana,
Post Courier, December 22, 2011, pg.1

The political stalemate in Port Moresby is over but a turmoil of another sort is brewing.
This time it is in the new Hela Province, where a key project site is under siege by aggrieved landowners and threatening stability in the billion kina oil and gas developments there.
Landowners in Gobe have put the Government on notice to settle their outstanding committments at PDL 4 Project site within the next 48 hours.
After storming the project site on December 8, landowners from the Samberigi area have been keeping a vigil with their numbers now swelling up to 2000 people at the Gobe Field Engineers (GFE) camp site.
Landowner representative Mr Max Apua reiterated his earlier call that they are not budging until the National Government solves their issue.
Speaking by phone from the project site yesterday, Mr Apua said his people want the Government to solve their grievances on-site. Mr Apua, who is also a councillor for Samberigi in the Erave Local Level Government said the Government and developer Esso Highlands are requested to come for round-table talks to solve their plight.
The developer, Esso Highlands in a statement yesterday confirmed that a camp operated by pipeline EPC contractor, Spiecapag, had its perimeter breached at around 9pm by a group of people from the local area.
Esso Highlands media and communications adviser Rebecca Arnold said: "A number of vehicles were vandalised and equipment was stolen. An adjacent camp operated by landowner company GFE was also breached and remains occupied by members of the group".
"There have been no reports of injuries. The police and other appropriate authorities remain on site," she stated. DPE official travelled to Gobe last week and interfaced with the group in an attempt to resolve the situation. They (DPE) returned yesterday, she confirmed.
Ms Arnold said the primary issue regarding the occupation appears to be Government commitments related to oil project Memorandums of Understanding (MoU's).
"Safety and security is a core value of Esso Highlands Limited  and we are committed to providing a safe workplace," she added.
Oil Search Limited general manager Mr Andrew Warrington said: "We fully support their continued provision of services to us despite the progressively and rapidly declining oil production at Gobe Main and South East Gobe.
Up until end September 2011 Oil Search had provided contract work during the year as follows: Gobe Field Engineering, civil work, camp maintenance and security work to the value of PNGK4.96MM Gobe Freight Services road transport and in-field cartage work to the value of PNGK8.31MM Gobe Catering - catering and camp management services to the value of PNGK2.87MM.
This data is published regularly by Oil Search in their bi-monthly Komuniti Nius. "These figures are revenue, not profit," he clarified.
Comments from DPE were not available to clarify the Government position, despite numerous calls yesterday afternoon.
However, Prime Minister Mr Peter O'Neill publically announced on Tuesday this week that all matters relating to outstanding commitments in Hela would be properly addressed shortly after all appropriate landowner groups were identified adequately.

A Touching Post from Tingtingblokantri Blog

The Bone Dagger

Simon, a leader of his clan,  is an elderly man who has no use for shoes and the clothes that the white man brought in more than 50 years ago.  This proud Hela elder is one of hundreds whose world revolved around traditional symbols of wealth and status.But all that is being torn to shreds as the whiteman's cash takes precedence over headresses, bird plumes and pigs.  The whiteman's law has also rendered centuries old  traditional commandments  unapplicable in the 21st century.

These days Simon refuses to leave the confines of his village and venture into the Tari township -the capital of the new Hela province. His whole world - the world of the Hela man - is slowly crumbling around him.

For laws enforced to the letter by armed police dictate that he abandon his cassowary bone dagger that a Hela  man always  carries after initiation. The whitemen from gas project are fearful of the Hela with their strange headresses and their "offensive weapons," -the cassowary bone daggers. Police tell him that he can wear everything else but the bone dagger. Some of his tribesman have chosen. To wear shorts and trousers to avoid hassles with the police but not Simon. He doesn't care much about Exxon Mobil's multibillion dollar gas project but what worries him are ancient prophecies of strife and turmoil that will befall his people if the land is disturbed and the "fire" given to the outsider.

What also worries him is that his land is being invaded and trampled on  by foreigners and he is unable to defend it

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Population Growth and Conflict in PNG: A Warning

See below, an interesting report on PNG’s population growth and the problems it creates. This dilemma is particularly important in areas facing natural resource developments. Indeed, one of the primary causes of the Bougainville conflict was a population bottleneck. A large generation of young people, who gained maturity in the 1980s, found core economic opportunities had been monopolized by previous generations. As a result they searched for new ways of organising their local political economy, one that would see a fairer redistribution of resources.

As we know this led to a bloody civil war, as neither local businessman or BCL would consent to the demands of the young people. We wonder then with all the new gas and mineral projects, whether 10 to 20 years from now we will see another Bougainville bottleneck. Of course by then Exxon will have pocketed the profits and the tax revenues will have lined the coffers of the corrupt elite, thus it will be left to the grassroots people, the PNGDF, the RPNGC and civil society to somehow resolve.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Population growth fuels conflict

IRIN – A Service of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

GOROKA, 21 December 2011  - Unchecked population growth is fast proving an additional source of conflict in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a country with a history of clan violence and clashes over land, experts say. 

“Without doubt, rapid population growth is adding to the risk of conflict,” Max Kep, director of the PNG’s national Office of Urbanization, told IRIN, noting that various types of conflict are fuelled by limited resources, including a shortage of land. 

As PNG’s population nears seven million, comprised of nearly 700 ethnic groups speaking some 800 languages, communities are increasingly fighting over smaller plots of land, while city dwellers in swelling urban areas are clashing with nearby owners of traditional land, Kep said. 

Over the past 30 years, the country’s population has more than tripled, from 2.1 million to 6.7 million, government figures reveal. 

At the same time, the average total fertility rate of 4.4 births per woman remains one of the highest in the Pacific region, says the UN. 

According to a recent government task force report on maternal health, PNG’s population will probably double in the next 25 years. 

Pressure on towns 

Adding to this challenge is PNG’s increasing youth population, with more than half of the country’s population now under the age of 20, according to World Bank figures.  

“It’s like having wild grass lying around waiting to be struck by lightning for a brushfire,” Helen Ware, a professor at the University of New England in Australia who has studied and practised peace-building in PNG, explained, noting the risk of so many idle, underemployed men. 

Migrants - drawn to towns and cities for jobs and services - are fuelling population growth in urban areas, Kep said, adding that urban areas are now growing at an average of 4.5-5 percent a year. 

Some 97 percent of the country’s land is under customary tenure law, meaning it is reserved for traditional land owners and the state has no jurisdiction over it. Land owners often are unwilling to release land for urban growth, so PNG’s cities have nowhere to expand, according to the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). 
The Eastern Highlands city of Goroka, for example, is facing critical land shortages which have caused rapid and informal urbanization, according to a UN-HABITAT report. 

Kep, with the Office of Urbanization, said a government initiative to encourage landowners to lease their land to municipalities is aimed at empowering them, with increased income and access to government services. 

Many of those flocking to urban areas today are the young. But with few job opportunities when they arrive, the country has also witnessed an increase in urban youth gangs, known as `raskol’ gangs, who often turn to crime, according to residents. 

Violent clashes have erupted between local landowners and `raskols’, Albert Sams, a 24-year-old health worker from Ifiufa, a village 20km from Goroka, explained. 

Family, community feuds 

Significantly, land disputes between family members and communities are also now more common under the strain of population growth, residents and international agencies say. 

“Villages which once were separated are now bordering one another, and conflicts are definitely arising through competition for resources,” said Chris Turner, from Marie Stopes International, an NGO providing family planning and reproductive services in PNG. 

In fact, in and around Goroka, fighting between families is also turning violent. 

“There are a lot of land disputes between families - some verbal abuse, and sometimes they fight with knives, sticks, stones or guns,” Sams said. 

Jeffery Korowa’s story is typical of large families struggling to live off the land. Hailing from a family of five siblings, the 49-year-old says all his brothers and sisters have had several children, leading to more than 15 offspring arguing over smaller and smaller pieces of property. 

“I’m already fighting with my brothers over land,” said Korowa, a nurse who owns land outside Mount Hagen, the provincial capital of West Highlands Province. “I can take my brothers to court. But I’m pretty sure if it comes to push and shove, it will become violent.” 

Furthers Reports on PNG's Resource Curse

Last Monday LNG WATCH PNG brought to light a recent study by Oxford Policy Management - this study has now been reported on The National.

Yehiura Hriehwazi, The National, Wednesday 21st December 2011
PAPUA New Guinea has been identified as among 20 countries in the world that is “most vulnerable” to fall under the “resources curse”.

Countries whose mineral and oil/gas exports account for 25% of their total exports were likely to become victims of the resources curse.

In PNG’s case, mineral, oil and gas account for over 60% of export revenue.

A study carried out by Oxford Policy Management (OPM) of mineral dependent countries – believed to be the first of its kind – found more than 20 low and middle-income countries “have become dangerously dependent on the exports of minerals such as metals and hydrocarbons, leaving the countries highly-vulnerable to a global economic downturn”.

About 75% of all mineral-dependent countries were now low-and middle-income countries, while the number classed as mineral-dependent has increased by 33% since 1996 from 46 to 61 nations, according to the OPM report, “Blessing or curse? The rise of mineral dependence among low- and middle-income countries.”

The study attempted to assess the vulnerability of resource-dependent nations on the so-called resource curse, characterised by weak economic and institutional development.

Six types of minerals were considered, including crude fertilisers, metalliferous ores (ores containing metals) and metal scrap, non-ferrous metals, pearls and semi-precious stones, non-monetary gold, and minerals fuels including natural gas.

The report developed an overall measure of institutional strength of a country by combining the World Bank’s six World Governance Indicators (WGI) with two indices: an economic and institutional development index, and a mineral dependence index.

The World Bank WGI includes voice and accountability, political stability and absence of violence, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption.

Mineral-dependent countries were defined as countries which rely on minerals for at least 25% of their tangible exports.

“Excluding Botswana and Chile – both of which have well-established and long-running mining sectors – the average annual GDP per capita of the top-20, non-fuel, mineral-dependent countries was US$3,200 in 2009,” the study said.

The mineral-dependent nations with the lowest GDP per capita included the Democratic Republic of Congo (US$319), Sierra Leone (US$808) and Mozambique (US$885).

The most dramatic changes in the number of mineral-dependent companies occurred from 2005 to 2010, when commodity prices started to soar.

During this period, eight additional nations became dependent on non-fuel minerals: Montenegro, Guyana, Laos, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Georgia, Somalia and Ghana. Only one country became dependent on fuel-based minerals during the same period: Belize.

In their research, Oxford Policy Management found “a significant negative correlation between overall institutional development and both non-fuel and fuel-dependence.

“This finding is consistent with evidence that there are many fuel-dependent countries with high levels of GDP per capita but with persistent weaknesses of democratic governance and state accountability, such as Equatorial Guinea, Libya and Russia,”

Dan Haglund,  a political economist focused on natural resources policy, generated two matrices which defined countries most at risk from the “resource curse” due to critical reliance on minerals exports for foreign exchange earnings and therefore most vulnerable to international commodity markets.

“They are also the most severely constrained in terms of economic resources and effective institutions,” he observed.

“These countries have limited industrial diversification that would enable either ‘upstream’ supply industries to develop or ‘downstream’ value addition.”

The matrices identified the non-fuel, mineral-dependent countries most at risk were Bolivia, Burkina Faso, the DRC, Ghana, Guyana, Laos, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Zambia.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

LNG Site Threatened

LNG Site Threatened

Post-Courier, Monday, 19 December, 2011, p.6

IN the midst of the ongoing political tussle, another storm is slowly brewing as the gateway to the country's multi billion kina LNG project site has been under siege since Thursday last week.
At least 16,000 landowners from the surrounding villagers of the Gobe field engineering site in the Southern Highlands stormed the site demanding that the Government meet their demands of the past 20 years or face its definite closure.
Gobe is the LNG pipeline gateway into the Gulf Province from Kutubu, Moran and Hides but landowners have said that the current impasse has done very little to appease the build up of tensions as a large number of ExxonMobil employees have been forcefully evacuated, leaving a skeleton' number of staff behind who will eventually be told to leave.
A handful of landowner representatives made up of various ILG Chairman who are currently in Port Moresby, told the media last Friday that it was high time the two factions resolved their issues and agreed on one elected leader to sit with them and discuss these issues or the site would be closed forever.
The landowners, who come from the six surrounding villages, made up of 14 Incorporated Landowner Groups, presented their petition to the Government on the same day they seized the site. "Gobe is the gateway to the outside world and the State needs to consider this," said the Chairman of the Petroleum Development Licence 4, Jerome Kairi.
He criticised the Government for the political tussle that has lasted for the entire week.
He also said that discussions should also include officials from Oil Search, Esso Highlands and the Secretary for Environment and Conservation.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Papua New Guinea "Especially Vulnerable" to the Resource Curse

A recent report produced by Oxford Policy Management’s Extractive Industries team, suggests Papua New Guinea is “especially vulnerable” to the resource curse, as a result of growing dependence on minerals.

The report claims mineral dependence negatively impacts on economic growth, “non-fuel, mineral dependent countries are more likely to have lower economic development than other countries”.

It also argues: “Countries that depend on either non-fuel or fuel minerals are also more likely than other countries to suffer from institutional governance problems such as corruption and political instability”.

However, perhaps most disconcerting from Papua New Guinea’s perspective is the following finding: “More than 20 mineral-dependent countries are especially vulnerable to the ‘resource curse’ – the risk that substantial changes in commodity prices will severely affect their development. Non-fuel, mineral-dependent countries that are most at risk of the resource curse include: Bolivia, Burkino Faso, the DRC, Ghana, Guyana, Laos, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Zambia".

Hopefully this report will be picked up and scrutinised by those in the mass-media and government who are at the forefront of the mining = development brigade - however, given that it raises uncomfortable facts which question this assumption, its findings might be tactically avoided. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Constitution is Being Breached by ExxonMobil et al!

Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea

(1) Every person has the right to freedom of expression and publication…
(2) In Subsection (1), “freedom of expression and publication” includes–
(a) freedom to hold opinions, to receive ideas and information and to
communicate ideas and information, whether to the public generally or to a
person or class of persons; and
          (b) freedom of the press and other mass communications media.

Freedom of expression and information are fundamental human rights inscribed in the constitution. These rights are currently being breached by a network of corporate actors who have undue influence on the press.

Recently on Facebook LNG Watch was criticised by a friend for focusing on Exxon's relationship with the Post-Courier, when more information is desperately needed on communities resisting this operation. We accept the latter criticism, however, LNG Watch still nonetheless believe that it is essential to be vigilant in exposing Exxon's relationship with major media outlets in PNG.

The fact is, LNG Watch PNG is run by volunteers, who lack the resources to fly to the affected regions on a regular basis. Media agencies on the other hand have the resources to make these trips. However, when media agencies are compromised by their relationship with  corporations or state actors, their vital role as circulators of information becomes muted. In PNG we have a free press, yet it often acts in a manner that one would expect in a authoritarian country such as China. This is a product of self-censorship.

Media agencies self-censor in PNG for a variety reasons. At the journalist level, reporters rely on the patronage of major companies, business lobbies, and state agencies, for breaking stories, and they are not about to burn their masters by publishing regular critical commentary. At the managerial level, executives have to worry about generating income and satisfying the ideological ambitions of their corporate owners.

Collectively these factors generate a system of self-censorship that is arguably more effective than state initiated censorship. Nevertheless, nothing is inevitable. If we resist, expose, and critique these systems of corporate power, there is the possibility that we can begin to change the way information is generated and distributed in PNG. Civil society is doing this by developing alternative mediums of information circulation, such as blogs and Facebook. However, just because we are developing other forms of social media we should not be prepared to surrender our radios and newspapers to the multinationals and the national elite.

On that front, we would like to finsih this blog with ANOTHER!!!! example of the Post-Courier publishing ExxonMobil press releases as news.

The question is how can we begin to mobilise against the iron grip multinationals have on our media so that information can circulate freely? After all freedom of information is a fundamental human right which is inscribed into our constitution. Yet it is being breached on a daily basis, not because of censorship laws imposed by the state, but because corporate actors have taken control of the media via the backdoor and have through a variety of tactics restricted the free flow of information!

 The Press Release

The Press Release as 'News Report'

73 Graduate

Konopa Kana

Post-Courier, Thursday, 8 December 2011

SEVENTY-three student trainees of the PNG LNG technician trainees completed their 18 months of basic operation and Maintenance training program.
The graduation was held on Monday night at the Gateway Hotel to commemorate the trainees' efforts and commitment with parents, loved ones and the media who where invited to witness the inspirational event.
The trainees are the first intake, and have spent the last 18 months undertaking training in Port Moresby.
In January next year they will travel to Canada for further advanced skills training.
On completion of their training, the trainees will be responsible for operating the LNG Plant and Hides Gas conditioning plant in the Hela Province.
Manager of production operation training centre, Tom Hooper said that he had the opportunity to train one of PNG's finest batches of students who are pioneers of the training. He said he was happy with the raw talent and intelligence they have shown during training, which he termed as a priceless commodity for this country.
He said in the last 18 months of training and observation the students have gained a lot to become one of the best teams in the entire world.
"Building your trade in specific skills will be useful for the rest of your life and I urge you to start embarking on them now before you leave for the training facility in Canada so you can be confident in what you do," Hooper said.
He said that he is very optimistic of the trainees and has high expectations in their advance training program in Canada because they have demonstrated that they are capable of strong leadership and can adhere to safety which is the paramount culture of Exxon Mobil in the PNG LNG project.

Friday, 9 December 2011

'LNG aids women', The Post-Courier aids LNG!

If you didn't laugh at the following article, you would have to cry. The Post-Courier are now acknowledging they are glorified stenographers for Exxon Mobil, publishing press releases as news.

Note the opening statement of 'facts', followed by the  embarrassing qualification, "this is according to a media release yesterday from Port Moresby". Well at least the Post-Courier are now owning up to it. 

However, when a company proclaims a fact, surely it isn't the journalist's job to act as a glorified parrot? Surely their job is to get out into the field and actually talk to the people, to the women on the ground to see if all these grandiose claims are true?

If you want to save time, you can easily not read the following story and simply go to the original press release: http://pnglng.com/media/pdfs/media_releases/media_release20111130_PNGLNG3Q2011.pdf

LNG aids women

Andrew Alphonse

Post-Courier, Friday, 2 December 2011

THE multi-billion kina PNG LNG project is providing opportunities to empower Papua New Guinea women in the establishment of community development initiatives in areas throughout the PNG LNG project in its commitment to empowering women.

This is according to a media release yesterday from Port Moresby.

According to the LNG project's third quarter 2011 environmental and social report features many examples of women helping to drive the country's economy with support from the LNG project.

PNG LNG project executive Ms Decie Autin said the LNG project recognises that women are important to the workforce, communities and the nation.

"In addition to the 900 Papua New Guinean women who are part of the PNG LNG project workforce, women are engaged in establishing a broad range of community development initiatives in areas such as education, health and safety, and community infrastructure.

"The project also continues to support many initiatives to help empower PNG women and support women's groups this quarter."

Exxon's Outstanding Corporate Social Responsibility Shines Through Again

Exxon's deal with the Kurds inflames Baghdad

Patrick Cockburn

The Independent, Friday, 09 December 2011

The great Iraqi oil rush has started to exacerbate dangerous communal tensions after a major oil company ignored the wishes of the central government in Baghdad and decided to do business with its main regional rival.

The bombshell exploded last month when Exxon Mobil, the world's largest oil company, defied the instructions of the Baghdad government and signed a deal with the Iraqi Kurds to search for oil in the northern area of Iraq they control. To make matters worse, three of the areas Exxon has signed up to explore are on territory the two authorities dispute. The government must now decide if it will retaliate by kicking Exxon out of a giant oilfield it is developing in the south of Iraq.

Political leaders in Baghdad say the company is putting the unity of their country at risk. Hussain Shahristani, the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of energy matters, told The Independent in an interview in Baghdad that any oil or gas field development contract in Iraq "needs the approval of the federal government, and any contract that has not been presented to the federal government has no standing and the companies are not advised to work on Iraqi territory in breach of Iraqi laws".

Baghdad has had oil disputes before with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), but the present row is far more serious because it is the first time "Big Oil" has moved into Kurdistan, showing that at least one of the major oil companies is prepared to disregard threats from the government of Nouri al-Maliki. Previously, only small independent foreign oil companies, without other interests to protect in the rest of the country, have risked signing contracts with the Kurds.

"Exxon Mobil was aware of the position of the Iraqi government," says Mr Shahristani, a former nuclear scientist who was tortured and imprisoned by Saddam Hussein. "We hear from the American government that they've advised all American companies, including Exxon Mobil, that contracts should not be signed without the approval of the federal government."

Whatever the prospects of finding oil in the north of Iraq, observers are surprised that Exxon is prepared to hang its future in Iraq on the outcome of the power struggle between Iraqi Kurdistan and the central government. Control of the right to explore for oil and exploit it is crucial to the authorities on both sides since they have virtually no other source of revenue.

The Kurds have won a degree of autonomy close to independence since the fall of Saddam, and the ability to sign oil contracts without reference to Baghdad will be another step towards practical independence and the break-up of Iraq. A parallel would be if the Scottish government were to sign exploration contracts in the North Sea without consulting London.

What makes the Exxon-KRG deal particularly inflammatory, says Mr Shahristani, is that three of the six blocs where Exxon is planning to drill are understood to be "across the blue line – that is outside the border of the KRG". This means they are in the large areas in northern Iraq disputed between Arabs and Kurds since 2003, but where the Kurds have military control.

The government must now decide if it will make good on its threats and replace Exxon at a mammoth oil field called West Qurna 1 at the other end of the country, north of Basra. Iraqi oil officials hint that Royal Dutch Shell might replace the American company.

Both sides have much at stake. The Iraqi government is totally reliant on its oil revenues to pay its soldiers, police force and civilian officials. It needs vast sums to rebuild the country after 30 years of war, civil war and sanctions. In 2009, it began to expand its oil industry by signing contracts with firms such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon to boost production in under-exploited and poorly maintained fields.

These companies thereby gained access to some of the largest fields in the world, each with reserves of more than five billion barrels. Vast sums are being invested, mostly around Basra in the south of Iraq. Oil output, now at 2.9 million barrels a day, is due to rise to a production capacity of 12 million b/d by 2017, potentially putting Iraq on a par with Saudi Arabia as an oil exporter.

Mr Shahristani is pleased with progress so far, saying that what "we are doing in Basra is at least five times larger than the largest oil projects in the history of the oil industry so far."

Sitting in his vast office in a cavernous palace originally designed for one of Saddam's senior lieutenants, he holds up a chart showing the surging production from the Rumaila oilfield of 1.4 million b/d, more than Britain's entire current output of crude from the North Sea.

Iraqis are split on whether Exxon is being cunning or naive. One explanation is that the oil company feels so powerful, or so essential to Iraqi oil development, that it can disregard the Iraqi government. An alternative argument is that Exxon is dissatisfied with the West Qurna 1 deal and so does not mind walking away from it and looking for oil elsewhere. A third is that the company got suckered by the Kurds.

Iraqi Arabs know that the Iraqi Kurds want to control as much of Iraq's oil reserves as possible to buttress their independence. Less easy to understand is why Exxon should willingly make its activities a central issue in the Arab-Kurdish confrontation which has for so long destabilised Iraq.

Flashpoint: Iraqi military bases

The transfer of Iraq's military bases to local control is another flashpoint between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad, and some fear the dispute may boil over when US forces pull out at the end of the year.

Last month saw a tense standoff between the Iraqi army and local Kurdish forces at a US airbase in the northern city of Kirkuk, an oil-rich area long a point of dispute. The Kurdish police force reportedly blocked an army team from entering the base for an official handover from the US, unhappy that it was being transferred to Baghdad.

In an effort to calm the drama, the US ambassador, James Jeffrey, met Kirkuk's Governor, Najmaldin Karim, and Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, in the capital.

"We did not want a situation where we ended up shooting at each other," said Mr Karim.
The situation was defused when the central government made assurances that the base would be used for 
civilian aircraft only, a key demand of the Kurds.

However, once the base is handed over to Iraqi control, Washington will have little control over whether Baghdad sticks by its verbal agreement. Indeed, Ali Ghaidan, the commander of Iraq's ground forces who led the army team that eventually entered the base, has since publicly ruled out the possibility of the base being turned into a civilian airport – saying it is of too much strategic importance to Iraqi forces.

Reports of Kurdish security forces, known as peshmerga, bolstering their presence in Kirkuk have raised questions over how long the lid can be kept on this simmering conflict.