By Jeffrey Elapa and Leslie Omara
The National, 24 February, 2012
A MULTI-BILLION kina liquefied natural gas project faces disruptions to its development after angry landowners complained about the damage to their environment and protected sites.
ExxonMobil, the developer of the PNG LNG gas project, had been accused by the people of Gulf province of breaching an agreement by laying pipelines within five miles of their traditional fishing grounds.
The landowners also want ExxonMobil to explain the presence of foreign vessels in their fishing grounds.
Aitari Huaupe, a public relations officer with the Ihu District Umbrella Landowners Association Inc, claimed that the ships seemed to be laying gas pipelines.
In response, Rebecca Arnold, the lead media and communications adviser for the LNG project, said the ships were not laying pipelines but were supporting the laying of the pipes. Arnold said the laying of the pipes was done 30km offshore from Caution Bay and not in the coastal waters as claimed by the landowners. She said the vessels supporting the pipe-laying were located eight nautical miles (15km) south of Apiope village. “We are still using the same route off Caution Bay all the way to Omanti as agreed in a permit with the government,” she said.
Gulf Governor Havila Kavo told parliament yesterday that the government and the developer should review the benefit-sharing agreement in light of the developer’s action. “I have gone to the area and found that the pipeline came right into the traditional fishing zone,” he claimed. “As a result, the marine life in the area has been disturbed and will continue to be affected as siltation from the 14 rivers that flow into the Gulf of Papua will be captured, building up sediments and disturbing the prawn cycle in the area.”