Key LNG Prject Site in Gobe Under Threat
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.