Angry LOs block off road
ANDREW ALPHONSE, The Post Courier, 17 January 2012
ANGRY Hides gas field landowners in Tari, Hela Province have forcefully shut down the operations of the existing Hides gas to electricity plant site as of 2am on Sunday.
They felled trees and dug a huge drain across the access road at Kulu near Yuni, preventing movement of workmen and vehicles to the plant site and Nogoli camp where operator Oil Search Limited (OSL) is based.
The Post-Courier visited the site on Sunday afternoon and observed that locals had used spades and steel rods to dig up the road under the cover of darkneww without being detected by OSL security. The locals also chained the gates to the plant site, preventing OSL workmen from gaining access. An OSL security officer at Nogoli confirmed the shutdown to the Post-Courier, stating that the closure of the plant site is placing OSL under extreme pressure as the gas plant operations supplies electricity to power the nearby Porgera gold mine operations in the Enga Province.
Hides PDL 1 landowner leaders from the 17 clans that receive yearly rental royalties are frustrated over certain unresolved issues with the State and decided to take action. Spokesmen Howard Timania (Humani clan), Hengebe Hondope (Pina) and Ekape Andiria (Pina) said the State through its relevant agencies like Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE), National Planning and Finance and Treasury have failed to address all outstanding Hides PDL 1 issues for nearly 20 years now while attention is shifted to the multi-billion kina PNG LNG project landowners from the neighbouring Hides 4 PDL 7, Angore PDL 8, Juha PDL 9, the proposed Komo LNG international airport and the proposed LNG conditioning plant site near the Hides 4 well pad head.
The leaders said Hides PDL 1 have presented submissions after submissions but these are filing up at DPE and National Planning offices while the State deemed fit to entertain and pay benefits to other landowners like Hides PDL 8 who just received their K16 million business development grants (BDG).
They said last week the 17 landowner groups were paid a mere K14,000 as annual rental payment for the plant site by DPE but this amount is “peanuts” compared to the millions of kina the operations at Hides PDL 1 has being making both for the developer OSL and the State in the past 19 years. The landowners said LNG project developer ExxonMobil has also raised many false and high expectations for the landowners when in fact there is nothing sustainable for the landowners to participate and they are mere spectators in their own land and that it was unfair for Hides PDL 1 landowners as their existing Hides PDL 1 project would supply more than 80 per cent of raw gas in the LNG project. They said OSL was also shifting the blame to ExxonMobil and the State while it (OSL) is also another major partner in the LNG project development. They said because of the failure by the State to address all these outstanding issues at Hides PDL 1, landowners who were marginalised but patient for nearly 20 years had decided to take action to show their frustration.
The leaders also demand a positive response from Petroleum and Energy Minister in the O’Neill-Namah government, William Duma to honour their K500 million outstanding Hides MOU claim be paid while another K40 million golden handshake’’ for the old Hides chiefs as per the Kokopo 2009 umbrella benefit sharing agreement (UBSA) commitment be paid too.
The landowners said they would still hold the road in ransom until the State, OSL and ExxonMobil comes to heed their plight.
Hides chief and Komo LLG deputy president Peter Pureni yesterday called on Mr Duma and Treasurer Don Polye to immediately go to Hides and meet the landowners. Mr Pureni said several times he has advised the State on their failure to address issues at Hides and now the landowners have resorted to taking the action to shut down the plant site.
Police mobile squads attached with LNG security operations are monitoring the situation, but could not remove the road blocks.
The closure of the plant site is affecting all EPC 4 international contractors working at Hides 4, conditioning plant sites, well pad, access roads, Kobalu, Komo and related quarry developments to come to a standstill as they could not get diesel supplies for the heavy machinery, equipment, trucks and vehicles. Post-Courier travelled to Hides 4 on Sunday afternoon and saw machines, equipment and trucks grounded while only light 4WD trucks were doing other odd jobs in the normally busy and hectic project area.
These contractors depend on the mini refinery at Hides plant for their diesel supply.