"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, 31 May 2012

Tensions Continue at PNG's Biggest Gas Project

ABC Radio - Pacific Beat 31 May 2012

Landowners and the the company involved in Papua New Guinea's biggest gas project want the PNG government formed after elections next month, to do a much better job of delivering on its promises. 

The 16 Billion dollar ExxonMobil-led LNG project is PNG's biggest resources development yet and is driving the country's strong economic growth.

But government failures are causing serious discontent with both the landowners and project management.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett.

Speakers: Peter Graham, Managing Director of Esso Highlands, the ExxonMobil subsidiary managing the PNG LNG Project

Libe Parindali, Chairman of Hides Gas Development Company, the main landowner company working for the PNG LNG project

GARRETT: Most of the PNG LNG project is located in remote Hela province in the PNG Highlands.

Many people have no electricity, they face a long walk to the nearest road and have poor access to business opportunities, schools and hospitals.

Under key Benefits Sharing Agreements the PNG government promised help with business development and infrastructure.

Libe Parindali, is Chairman of Hides Gas Development Company, the main landowner company working for the PNG LNG project.

PARINDALI: We are struggling. We are not seeing that support from the government. Government is not there in the project. Government has totally lost the plot. They are not in control. Company is becoming the defacto government on the ground.

GARRETT: So what would you like to see the Papua New Guniea government do?

PARINDALI: We would like to see the Papua New Guinea government step up and take ownership of the project by having their presence on the ground and attending to issues. They've agreed to do certain things, infrastructure, health, education and they are not doing it!

GARRETT: Peter Graham, is Managing Director of Esso Highlands, the ExxonMobil subsidiary which manages the PNG LNG Project.

GRAHAM: The way the business development grants was handled was unfortunate, to say the least. One, it was very slow in coming. Two, it arguably didn't get translated into business development. It turned out to be cash into a number of people's pockets which didn't serve the purpose of building business so, yes, that was truly disappointing. Now we have the infrastructure development grants which are the 120 million kina per annum for 10 years. We are working our way through, ..or the government is working its way through how to disperse those monies in a way that does deliver tangible infrastructure on the ground. We hope to see that in fact happen.

GARRETT: Many of the payments for business development grants were handed out at government offices in Waigani in the PNG capital, hundreds of kilometres away from where the landowners live.

Libe Parindali's criticism of the process is scathing.

PARINDALI: The government has raised unnecessary expectations. Everybody turns up in Waigani putting their hands out, saying I am a landowner. They write the cheques, millions of kina worth of cheques, to each and everyone who turns up and the real people, the landowners on the ground in Hides, in Kutubu, in Gobe, in Moran in Juha, in Angore, have missed out! And that is a very bad trend and we have set a very bad precedent!

GARRETT: Landowner company Chairman, Libe Parindali.

The PNG Highlands is volatile.

Police have expressed concern about a growing trade in high powered weapons and in the past year various landowner groups have warned the area has the potential to become another Bougainville, referring to the civil war which left 20,000 people dead.

Esso Highlands Managing Director, Peter Graham wants action from the new government that will be formed after next month's elections.

GRAHAM: They need to set in place some very simple processes with a very clear rule that money is not handed out in cash, up front. If that single thing was changed we could see a transformation of the way government delivers those infrastructure projects. While ever money is handed out in cash it is unlikely, in my view, that we will see good use of that money on the ground. It needs to be released against specific projects and with appropriate controls on the delivery of the project.

GARRETT:Does unhappiness with the way the government is handling its part in the LNG project have the potential to affect the project itself?

GRAHAM: It does from time to time where we find ourselves as the point of leverage that the landowners resort to to apply pressure to government. I think, for the most part, the landowners understand that they're affecting ultimately themselves, as well as the project, because they are stakeholders in the project. They've got equity in the project but if they get sufficiently anxious that they are not getting their message through then there have been occasions when they've used us in that way and, hopefully, we don't see that continuing. The government, I think, has been trying to respond appropriately and get people into the field. I think it is critical that they do that, they get agencies into the field to respond more quickly.

GARRETT: Libe Parindali, Chairman of the Hides Gas Development company, also has advice for the post-election government.

PARINDALI: The message for the new government ..what I'd like to see is a Government Minister that has heart for the project, heart for the people, that wants to be with the project, be with the people, must be appointed to be Minister. Because right now, as we see it, the department of Petroleum and Energy and the Minister of Petroleum, they are not functioning. They are a dysfunctional Ministry and dysfunctional Department. That is why we are at a loss. That's why the oil and gas industry is in total chaos in Papua New Guinea.

GARRETT: This issue with with the government's performance has been going on for some time. What potential does it have to derail the whole PNG LNG project if it keeps going?

PARINDALI: The potential it has by the government not taking ownership is that the landowners become careless, reckless, irresponsible and they will take on the project! We need to be very careful!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Report Slams PNG LNG

Jo Chandler, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 May 2012

A failure to work with the community could undermine the $16 billion project.

''Hela society is very unpredictable, like the weather is unpredictable. But one thing I can say is that if the people see they have been cheated, if the people see that their rights have been deprived, then there may be problems.''

Community leader from Hela Province, the heartland of the $16 billion PNG LNG project.

THREE years after work began in earnest building the hardware to extract and pipe gas from the mountains of Papua New Guinea, initiating what is spruiked as a game-changing bonanza for the fragile nation, many local people remain excluded, frustrated and suspicious about the $US16 billion project.

The PNG LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) project has already utterly changed their lives, according to an academic investigation.

Failures to better inform the local Hela community about the project, together with flaws in the critical processes of identifying landowners entitled to a share of the windfall and concerns about how the benefits will ultimately be shared, are identified in the new report as potentially damaging concerns in a region infamous for volatility and violence.

Causing particular anxiety was that the failure - blamed largely on the PNG government - to facilitate a full landowner identification process and legislate around creating landowner companies threatened to ''undermine the LNGP and future progress''.

The report - to be launched in Canberra today by parliamentary secretary for Pacific island affairs Richard Marles - says that although the LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) project represents a significant opportunity for PNG, one which has already yielded benefits for some in local jobs and a boosted economy, these gains are at risk of being undermined if local disenchantment and simmering social tensions ignite the powderkeg Highlands region.

The report lays out a detailed examination of some of the challenges to development in a country such as PNG.

Despite its bountiful resources - PNG is an island of gold, floating in a sea of oil, surrounded by gas, so the ritual boast goes - in terms of exploitation the result over the years ''has at best been mixed, with few long-term benefits being passed on to the wider population'', the authors write.

The reason PNG has struggled to capitalise on its natural abundance, and in some cases has ''suffered serious environmental and social harm in the wake of resources development'', is due to a mixture of factors, foremost among them failures of governance - ''the absence of good institutions and sound economic policy'' - and the fragility of vulnerable indigenous populations, many of whom struggle with the social fallout of the roller-coaster rush to modernity that comes in the wake of mining and logging operations.

Hela Province, which is the crucible of the nation's economic hope, presents a formidable set of hurdles to any potential investors and developers, the report explains.

Geographically it is remote and wild country - a landscape of steep mountains, choking forests, isolated subsistence gardens and villages connected by few roads and broken bridges. It also has some of the lowest literacy and highest levels of child and maternal deaths in the nation.

The report argues that the key to the LNG project achieving its potential to deliver benefits to the community - without overwhelming social costs - requires the resources companies, the community and the government to ''accept and discharge wider responsibilities beyond the narrow remit of self-interest.

''The role of resource development projects such as the LNGP should not just be income generation,'' the report argues, ''but the promotion of wider human development aspirations such as improved livelihoods, greater access to education, better nutrition and healthcare, surety against crime and physical violence, cultural and political freedoms and a feeling of participation in community life.''

''A unique partnership has to be built if this very important project is to succeed,'' said lead author Dr James McIlraith of New Zealand's University of Otago.

Given the nation's ongoing political crisis, ''in the immediate short term, the government doesn't have the capacity, it's going to have to be Esso and the churches who need to pick up the slack to some degree.

''I think Esso are a bit reluctant to do that - they have a business orientation - but these are very unique and challenging circumstances, and to succeed with this project, both in terms of its business and profitability, and to succeed in the community, Esso has to take that different track.''

A spokesman for Esso Highlands said the report identified many issues and challenges that were already being actively addressed.

''We are committed to developing the PNG LNG project in a manner that protects Papua New Guinea's natural and social environments, while providing economic benefits to its citizens.''

The research was sponsored by six partners - the PNG Church Partnership Program, ChildFund, Oxfam, the Melanesian Institute (a research and training body in Goroka), the University of Otago, and Jubilee Australia.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/png-gas-project-faces-risks-20120528-1zfb6.html#ixzz1wB36JIZV

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Community Good: A Research Report on the Social Impact of the PNG LNG Project in the Hela Region

Tuesday 29 May 2012, 12.30-4.30pm

Hedley Bull Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Bldg #130, Garran Road, ANU

In association with ChildFund, PNG Church Partnership Program, Oxfam International, Jubilee Australia, Melanesian Institute and the University of Otago, The State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program is hosting a workshop on the PNG LNG project.

The aim of the workshop is to engage with LNG project stakeholders, NGOs, academics and interested parties in an active discussion into the research investigation and findings of the report – The Social Impact of the PNG LNG Project in the Hela Region and to discuss the implications and recommendations for PNG and Australia.

The LNG Workshop Agenda and Invitation to the launch of the Report at Parliament Houseare available here.

To help with catering please RSVP ssgm.admin@anu.edu.au by COB Friday 25 May.

Churches launch LNG report

Grace Auka, The National, Friday May 18th, 2012

The PNG churches partnership programme has been concerned about the impact of the LNG project and has launched a research report on it.

The report “The Community Good” looks at the effects of the LNG project in Hela province.

Church leaders council chairman Patrick Gaiyer explained the involvement of the churches in producing the report examining the influence of the LNG project in Hela.

“In relation to the development, the churches are not against it but are major partners in community development and would like to ensure that any major development is sensitive and balanced towards the people’s cultural, spiritual and empowerment needs,” Gaiyer said.

It focuses on the security threats and issues which were important to local people.
He said development should at all times avoid situations where a multi-billion kina project was threatened and reduced the people to a mere community of beggars.
He said the milestone achievement had room for further research on the social impacts that are being currently experienced.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

InterOil worried its 6 billion US dollar LNG project in PNG will be cancelled

Radio New Zealand International, 16 May 2012.

InterOil Corporation says Papua New Guinea’s energy department plans to cancel approval for its 6 billion US dollar liquefied natural gas complex, but it says it’s confident the project can be saved.

The National newspaper reports that the department asked the company last year to revise plans for the Gulf LNG project, which was slated to go on line in 2014, saying InterOil had deviated from the original agreement.

InterOil says the government has no right to end the agreement and that it has the support of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

It’s Chief executive, Phil Mulacek, says PNG continues to have political flux as the country gets closer to the main election date.

The company says it has been in talks with the government since learning through an unofficial source that the Department of Petroleum and Energy planned to cancel the agreement, which was signed in 2009

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Fears election violence could hit PNG LNG project

The head of Papua New Guinea's $US15 billion dollar ExxonMobil-led Liquefied Natural Gas project says he is concerned about the potential for violence during next month's elections.

The PNG LNG project is Papua New Guinea's flagship resources development, one of the key factors driving economic growth of nearly 8 per cent.

PNG LNG Managing Director Peter Graham has told a business forum in Brisbane exports are set to begin as planned in 2014.

But he says he's concerned about the impact of electoral violence, and they have been planning for the risk of election violence for 12 months. 

"We put a lot of effort with our contractors into preparing our camp sites, security around the campsites, ensuring that if the Highlands Highway were cut off by some protest or other, that we have stockpiled sufficient food and fuel and medical supplies and we have arrangements in place to fly stuff in if we need it," he said.

Much of the PNG LNG Project is located in volatile highlands provinces where a rapidly growing population and easy mobile phone communications is exacerbating the risk of conflicts escalating into large scale fights.

Mr Graham says with 16,000 staff in the field he cannot afford to have them unable to work.

"We can't afford to have people standing around for a day, or two days or a week if something should go wrong," he said.

"So we're pretty confident all of those plans will help us get through.

There's been speculation about the expansion of the PNG LNG plant at the plant just outside Port Moresby to double capacity.

With recent good exploration results, Mr Graham is no longer ruling that out.

"In order to install another train, similar to the trains we have today, we probably need about four or four and a half trillion cubit feet of gas," he said.

"That's about half of what we have today for the existing project ... our focus today is on delivering this project first.

"We are looking for additional gas to accumulate. It's going to take some time and some further drilling and a lot of expenditure to prove up gas for another one or two trains."


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

PNG gas project fuels discontent

Ash Pemberton, Green Left Weekly, 14 May 2012

The presence of police and mobile brigade soldiers at construction sites for the PNG LNG (liquefied natural gas) project in Papua New Guinea ― majority owned by Exxon Mobil ― is an indication of the community discontent surrounding the project.

Fears have been raised that conflict over the project could provoke violence like that of Bougainville in the 1990s.

Exxon Mobil and its partners plan to invest US$15 billion in the project, including a production and processing site near Tari, Hela Province, in the Southern Highlands, and a liquefaction and storage plant near Port Moresby, Inter Press Service said on April 16.

Once operational, the project is expected to double PNG's gross domestic product.

Landowners in affected areas have held many protests against the company since building began in 2010, over claims that many were ripped off in deals for compensation and infrastructure funding.

Many landowners complained of being left out of negotiations altogether.

The Post-Courier reported on November 8 last year that MP Francis Potape said many landowners were angry at not being paid when “certain 'handpicked landowners' who are friends with cabinet ministers and key people in departmental heads” had received government funds.

Locals in the Southern Highlands region have stopped building several times with road blockades and site occupations. Some of them involved threats and violence against workers.

Police used tear gas and fired warning shots at a landowner protest outside the prime minister's office in Port Moresby on March 6, the National said the next day. Police said they would treat future protests as “unlawful assemblies”.

The government announced on April 2 that soldiers would be sent to Hela and Porgera in neighbouring Enga province to help police control protests, Radio New Zealand International said that day.

Spokesperson for Hela landowners Sir Alred Kaiabe told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat on March 26 violence was likely to escalate.

"It will definitely get worse,” he said. “Far worse than the Bougainville crisis.

“We are Highlanders and we are known for fighting. Fighting is a way of life and we will fight to the day to protect what is theirs if they have been cheated."

Two deadly events related to the project have already occurred this year, causing further outrage against the company and government.

The first was a landslide in Hela Province on January 24, believed to be caused by work at a quarry used for the LNG project. The villages of Tumbi and Tumbiago were destroyed, killing up to 60 people.

Instead of searching for survivors, the government and company chose to clear access roads for the LNG project, LNG Watch said on April 11. This included building a road over the dead.

Locals were forced to dig for their relatives by hand.

When locals blocked earthmoving equipment in protest, officials threatened to withhold 10 million kina (nearly A$5 million) in disaster response funding, Radio New Zealand International said on February 16.

LNG Watch said on February 23 that Exxon Mobil and partner Oil Search Limited had helped manage the National Disaster Committee (NDC) investigation into the landslide, whose report found that “heavy rainwater” was responsible for the disaster.

The NDC was later forced to admit the report was flawed and that they were yet to conduct a proper investigation or establish the cause, LNG Watch said on February 14.

Official inquiries into the disaster promised by the government and company have failed to happen.

The second deadly incident took place at Tamadigi camp on April 3, when one worker was killed and another had his head grazed by a bullet when police guarding the construction site opened fire, LNG watch said on April 5.

The incident was sparked when workers began arguing with officers over the police's treatment of local residents protesting against the LNG project.

However, an Exxon Mobil spokesperson denied the worker was killed by police, PNGIndustryNews.net said on April 11. However, the spokesperson gave no alternate explanation for the death. A company inquiry into the incident has yet to produce any results.

Workers on the PNG LNG project have also complained of “discrimination, unfair dismissal, and a lack of union representation in the workplace”, LNG Watch said on May 1.

The police in the area have acted as a security force for PNG LNG. The National said on May 3 last year an investigation had recommended the memorandum of understanding between police and the company be terminated.

It said mobile brigades were specially reassigned to project sites and that officers' expenses, accommodation, food and body armour were paid for by the company.

LNG Watch said on November 10, 2010: “A figure of K2 million has been cited as the per month subsidy Exxon Mobil are/will provide the RPNGC for security services.”

Government complicity in the activities of PNG LNG reflects the state's commitment to fostering corporate profit-making and enriching PNG's elite while most people languish in Third World conditions.

People directly affected by the project may eventually see some development in their area. But it will be only crumbs compared with the wealth taken out of the country by the Western companies involved

Saturday, 12 May 2012

ExxonMobil Blames Punitive Security Strategy on the O'Neil Government

According to the below article, partnerships with the community guides ExxonMobil's security strategy - it is the PNG state who is selecting to use a more punitive approach to resource security. This is a common argument employed by resource operators in PNG to dodge responsibility for security force killings and brutality (e.g. BCL in Bougainville, and Barrick Gold in Porgera). Whether the evidence supports this claim remains to be seen - if evidence ever comes to light (which is unlikely).

Looming Election puts PNG LNG Project at Risk

Islands Business, 9 May 2012

ESSO Highlands Ltd (EHL) subsidiary operator of ExxonMobil led PNG LNG Project says it is committed to conducting business in a way that protects the safety of its personnel, facilities and nearby communities. 

A spokesperson from EHL responding to intelligent analysis cautioning about the looming general election related violence in the Highlands and aggrieved landowners of the project sites that may pose a threat to the multibillion kina project said “partnerships with the community remain the underpinning foundation of our approach to security around our facilities. The decision related to the call-out of Defence forces rests entirely with Government,” the spokesperson said. 

An intelligence analyst has predicted that there is a possibility of a disruption of the multibillion kina project and other major project in the Highlands by aggrieved resource owners and tribal groups Brittany Damora, Asia Pacific Intelligence Analyst at AKE Group, based in London and Singapore last week predicted the risk that tribal conflict will disrupt preparations for the LNG project in the Southern Highlands in the short-term remains ever present, and will increasingly intensify as the project continues. 

Brittany said “there is evidence of amplified unrest in PNG as rival groups seek to capitalise on the increased capital flowing into the country. Attacks on the facilities directly linked with the LNG project are likely over the period of construction as clans try to use force to extract concessions or, more likely, fight with rival groups over what has already been allocated in terms of royalties. Increased criminality in the short and medium term is also likely. Further disruptions to the projects will likely be threatened unless contracts are negotiated and outstanding payments to landowners are received".

Friday, 11 May 2012

Malum Nalu - Seriously?

Is this really what the 2011 winner of the UNESCO/Divine World University Award for Communication and Development calls journalism/blogging:

I visited the massive multi-billion Exxon Mobil LNG project site outside Port Moresby yesterday (Friday) afternoon, where I accompanied Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma, who pushed hard for this project to become a reality.

Work is progressing well, on target, with more than 8,000 workers currently on site. 
Things have changed so much since I last visited two months ago. 
"More than what I expected," an impressed Duma said. 
"Very impressive. 
"I'm very pleased with what Exxon Mobil has done."


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Oil Search Chairman claims PNG LNG has not been disrupted

Oil Search Ltd has a 29% interest in the PNG LNG project. The following is an exert from the Chairman's address to the Oil Search Annual General Meeting (8/5/12). It is an interesting interpretation of security conditions around the project over the past year:

"There has been considerable political uncertainty in PNG over the past year, which has created some concerns within the banking and investment communities. Despite the political instability, neither the PNG LNG Project nor our operations have been disrupted [Then why the need for PNGDF deployment? - LNG Watch]. Ensuring the continued security and safety of our staff and contract ors in the run up to the election remains the highest priority for Oil Search

We are encouraged that the Government has confirmed the election will proceed according to the original timetable. The country is already in a period of major social and economic change. This will increase further when the very significant revenues from the PNG LNG Proj ect start to flow in 2014. We look forward to working with the incoming Government, in particular, on establishing structures and processes t o manage thes e very substantial benefits streams, in the best interests of the nation, and on ensuring consistency of fiscal terms, which is critical to ongoing investment".

Monday, 7 May 2012

Work on LNG project resumes in PNG’s Hela Province, locals confused over troop deployment

Radio New Zealand International, 7 May 2012

Construction work for Exxon Mobil’s Liquefied Natural Gas project has resumed in Papua New Guinea’s Hela region following a series of disruptions related to landowner issues and disputes over compensation.

Hela is the hub of the large LNG project which has been hampered by recent illegal blockades by landowner groups demanding compensation from government and developer over grievances related to the project.

Work appears to be back in full swing after Defence Force troops were recently deployed to the region following a government callout.

Stanley Mamu of the NGO LNG Watch says local communities are confused over the reason for the deployment.

“Not because of robbery or whatever, or fighting, but just because of those blockades. They just want to bulldoze everything without getting on the ground and investigating to gauge why the landowners have been blocking the road. So, people are living in fear, that’s why.”

Stanley Mamu

Saturday, 5 May 2012

MP taking up arms before polls: PNG bishop

Sydney Morning Herald, 4 May 2012

The government of Papua New Guinea is being urged to send troops to Enga province in the nation's north, where an MP is allegedly arming himself in preparation for the June election.

The call, from Lutheran Bishop David Piso, comes as the government of Peter O'Neill announces a troop callout to the neighbouring Southern Highlands to quell law and order issues.

Bishop Piso's call also comes after Internal Security Minister John Boito this week urged MPs to give up their weapons as the election draws near.

"I have seen relatives of an MP in police uniform, but I will not say who," Bishop Piso told AAP on Friday.

"The weapons are increasing. There has been an amassing of guns.

"There are homemade guns, they have been making them. Three shots, five shots and 15 shots. I have seen two AK-47s."

Bishop Piso, a former military chaplain in the PNG Defence Force, on Friday publicly urged the government to send troops to the region ahead of the election.

"Please do not waste any more time," he urged the government on the front page of Friday's Post Courier newspaper.

The bishop's plea came as the government announced a troop callout to neighbouring resources-rich Tari and Hela provinces in the Southern Highlands, as well as Porgera in Enga.

In late March, hundreds of illegal miners reportedly converged on the Porgera goldmine in Enga, threatening and injuring staff and destroying equipment.

Roadblocks in the Southern Highland town of Tari have disrupted parts of the massive Exxon-Mobil liquefied natural gas project.

The roadblocks were set up in the weeks after up to 29 settlers were killed in a landslide at the Tumbi quarry, which Exxon said it had closed months before the accident.

"The government's decision for this callout is to create an avenue for all stakeholders to establish dialogue to address the law and order problems in Hela, Tari and Porgera," Office of Security Coordination and Assessment (OSCA) acting director-general Ian Jinga said in a statement.
"This is because the multibillion (dollar) projects built here are very important for the economic lifeline of the country.

"Illegal activities by a few individuals that pose a threat to these major projects will not be tolerated."

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Analyst Warns of Extreme Violence as Tensions Increase at PNG LNG

Brittany Damora, Eurasia Review, 2 May 2012
In the Highlands region, PNG soldiers have been deployed where security problems are threatening two major resource projects. Landowner disputes have disrupted key construction work in Hela’s Hides area for Exxon Mobil’s LNG project, while Porgera’s gold mine has enduring complications related to illegal mining. Although currently there is no state of emergency in the region, troops are likely to continue assisting police despite local complaints regarding the military presence. The timing of deployment of the 30 soldiers to the region is indicative of continuing concern that growing lawlessness will deter foreign investors.
The risk that tribal conflict will disrupt preparations for the LNG project in the Southern Highlands in the short-term remains ever present, and will increasingly intensify as the project continues. There is evidence of amplified unrest in PNG as rival groups seek to capitalise on the increased capital flowing into the country. Attacks on the facilities directly linked with the LNG project are likely over the period of construction as clans try to use force to extract concessions or, more likely, fight with rival groups over what has already been allocated in terms of royalties. Increased criminality in the short and medium term is also likely. Further disruptions to the projects will likely be threatened unless contracts are negotiated and outstanding payments to landowners are received.
With the most significant increase to gross national income to occur with the production and sale of LNG in 2015, controversy surrounding the project is also likely to peak around this time. The major benefit of the PNG LNG project to the national and provincial governments and landowners in the country will come from distributions of mining and petroleum tax revenue, mining royalties and dividends on equity. However, due to the increasing frequency of attacks, unfulfilled landowner contracts and allegations of corruption, with an increase in revenue, there is also likely to be an increase in violence in the country.
This will likely be exemplified through the increased targeting of expatriate workers, protests at various project sites, work stoppages and storming of government offices, including the potential taking of hostages.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Allegations of discrimination and anti-labour practices at PNG LNG

Last week a thread on industrial relations practice at PNG LNG was started on a popular Papua New Guinea Facebook forum. Contributors complained about discrimination, unfair dismissal, and a lack of union representation in the workplace.

We post the thread below. The names of contributors have been removed in case they are PNG LNG employees. A number of PNG LNG workers have alleged to LNG Watch that ExxonMobil monitors Facebook forums and disciplines staff  for making public comments about the project.

Facebook Post


 ·  ·  · April 25 at 9:13am via mobile

    • I turned down one of their offer because of the same reason...I knew this was in existence...!!
      April 25 at 9:18am ·  ·  2
    • Why are we being treated like slaves in our own country???
      April 25 at 10:55am ·  ·  2

    • I was told they preach about safety but they drop their local staff at main bus stops they find their way home. Not caring if they are held up or get caught in the rain, probably getting sick after that. Their wives missuse the company vehicles during working hours thats okay but if a local does, he or she is sacked. PNG employees who are more qualified in their field are been supressed & expats that don't even qualify are placed there.

      April 25 at 1:09pm via mobile ·  ·  4
    • as always, PNG being used as dumping ground...alot of former santos being placed with duplication of roles, you see it in OSL as well as Esso! BBt it works different for AMerican companies, they treat you equal!
    • Sad... So what do we do? Any practical suggestions? Do we start with thrashing issues about labour dept?
      April 25 at 1:33pm via mobile · 
    • I beleive the government should come hard now on nationalisation program...it seems that is the only setback, dept of labour & industrial relations need to conduct employeee and employer surveys right througout the country and determine the salary cap for national employees, as well as other working conditions and benefits.
      April 25 at 1:42pm ·  ·  5
    •  for exampe, some companies pay nationals based on the standard of living, the currency equivalent but not basically on the job...you will see some papua new guineans basically do the same job but are paid differently. we need to review these policies, and see if there are loopholes for which they are are capitalizing
      April 25 at 1:44pm ·  ·  5

    • The majority of national employees working within LNG Plant site are either recruited by LABA Holdings Ltd or recommended to the LNG Contractors by LABA Holdings. LABA is the umbrella landowner company owned by the 4 impacted central villages of Porebada, Boera, Lealea and Papa who have a 25% interest each in the umbrella company. LABA has a signed contract with Esso Highlands Ltd giving it exclusive recruiting rights from general labourers to Clerical positions from the 4 impacted villages or within NCD/Central. In the agreement the hourly rates for all positions from the cleaners to the admin clerks are specified and LABA is paid direct from EHL the monthly rates of all employees recruited by LABA. LABA then pays the employees not the full amount, but deducts a certain percentage as a management fee and pays the balance to the employee. A security Guard manning the gate to the plant site may be recruited by Laba for EHL at a rate of K8 per hour. LABA upon receiving payment from EHL retains K3 and pays the employee only K5 per hour. The employees cannot complain to EHL because EHL is paying LABA in advance the agreed workers rates. LABA should step out of the picture, stop acting as a middle man and allow employees to be paid their full rates under the agreement with Esso Highlands.

      April 25 at 2:41pm ·  ·  7
    • My thoughts are this is what John Paska and the TUC should be fighting for...workers rights as citizens and battling the Government of PNG to do something about this instead of getting involved with politics. This would do Mr. Paska a whole lot of Good come election time when he stands for the NIPS regional seat.
      April 25 at 4:26pm ·  ·  2

    • I know that we don't have a strong labour laws that protect & safeguard the naional or citizen interest. I was sacked anyway from LNG because I posted the death of a Tari colleague & wantok during recent strike in Tamadeki camp, I would say...
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      April 25 at 5:02pm ·  ·  3
    • I mean very few PNGians find themselves in the management level & technical or supervision. Rest of the PNGians employed are class" general labour" those that will be classed skilled labour (such as operators, drivers etc) share the created vacancies with overseas imported labour. In most cases, overseas skilled imports surpass the local supply, yet we find some skilled PNGians on the streets...
      April 25 at 5:09pm ·  ·  1

    • Now, coming to the treatment of PNGians, all of us are viewed the same as any PNGians irrespective of whether we come from project impacted area or not. They think that someone from Rabaul coming to work under HDGC is from Tari so how he tr...
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      April 25 at 5:14pm ·  ·  1

    • To say it in short: LNG Project has a screen that "its users" use to view Papua New Guineans in terms of skill level & business capacity. Basically, the general consensus is PNG is not there yet, not on par in terms of technical capacity, b...
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    • By the way, EHL restricts the umbrella landowner companies to recruit within project impacted area only, once the umbrella companies start recruiting other PNGians not within the project area, travel costs & other factors are not part of the agreement so umbrella companies are discouraged or made to fight the system to get reimbursement...this small tactic is used to favour them so they can recruit overseas imports
      April 25 at 5:33pm ·  ·  1
    •  I cant believe they sacked you that is disgraceful. You reported, in good faith, a tragic event to Sharp Talk users, you do not deserve to be punished for that. Indeed, how many accidents, fatalities, injuries, are occurring at the LNG project I wonder, which are not reported on because employees are not unionised, and are scared they will lose their position? I am so sorry to hear you were fired.

      April 25 at 6:11pm ·  · 
    •  I guess I went bit far in not returning on time after the short lay-off, so I was asked to go off...I am speculating it may have other reasons for them asking me not to return
      April 25 at 6:36pm ·  ·  1
    • By the way, not everyone returned on time plus other admin delays in arrangement but I have accepted to move on as I cannot pretend I do not hate my workplace treatment...
      April 25 at 6:40pm ·  ·  1
    • Fair enough, well I hope you are able to find work in a more supportive and interesting environment.

      April 25 at 6:45pm ·  · 

    • On the issue raised by XXXXX - and I preface this by saying I am not familiar with the IR situation at PNG LNG - it would appear that PNG workers are organised through workers councils. This appears (?) to be a tool set up by management to hear workers thoughts and grievances. If LNG workers are to have improved conditions and pay, I would imagine some form of collective bargaining is needed, mediated through a LNG workers union. But to my knowledge none exists. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable on this front can advise.

      April 25 at 7:04pm ·  · 

    • Not good...not good at all. I agree. Because of the size of the project there should be a employees union setup.
      I was told that at a meeting they were told before hand to give in their questions on the project & conditions. When asked if they lcls who live further out of the city could be assisted with transport to take them home early to avoid any security issues they said thats your choice! They didnt even try to look at the living conditions & ask why they're asking the questions.

      April 25 at 9:58pm via mobile ·  ·  1

    • Here they are planning to build a multimillion dollar residential block which will only house the expatriate community. What about the local employees. they can't even provide something like that as an incentive so that they would go to work early & work loyally towards a successful project.
      Mind you some employees in POM start work 8am but are up at 4am just to get to work early & arrive home at 6pm or 7pm sometimes even at 8pm & the cycle repeats. Not good coz fatigue relates to less productivity

      April 25 at 10:13pm via mobile ·  ·  2
    • Can the employees bring those cases to our attention and we can put them up on "Abusers Exposed Png".....
      April 25 at 10:31pm via mobile ·  ·  1

    • The labour dept, foreign affairs, immigration and customs should collate a profile of people of asian, australian, NZ, US, canadians, english origin working at the LNG sites. Make it public so we know who they are and what job they do, that PNGeans cannot do.
      April 25 at 10:40pm ·  ·  1
    • PNG is systematically corrupt. Human beings rely on the systems inplaced throughout the world in the Govn't systems. We are systematically defunct and corruption take its course by ill disciplined public servants taking advantage for thier own benefit
      April 25 at 11:11pm ·  ·  1
    • The employees in LNG especially nationals definitely need back up, support and help from TUC and Labour to give them a voice. They have an association registered and I heard the association has registered with TUC but they have not been supported in their cause. Currently they are simply being exploited by the contractors and Laba Holdings.
      April 25 at 11:33pm ·  ·  3
    • ‎... Laba holdings who is exploited by EHL... apparently thanks to agreement they cant go beyond scaffolding, catering and security... The EHL is a bully and thanks to the stupid leaders who negotiated a weak deal for the landco... PATHETIC
      April 25 at 11:42pm via mobile ·  ·  5

    • PNG, we have to realise that it is not that easy to work in a multi cultural environment...this issue raised happens in every multi national company you work for in the industry... The best thing to do is stand tall and firm....talk the way...
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      April 25 at 11:53pm ·  ·  1
    •  Mega rip off! I couldn't believe Laba Holdings was able to settle for less! Sounds discriminatory in nature the terms of the agreement...
      April 25 at 11:54pm via mobile ·  ·  4
    •  bro if you ever get into Parliament come July or whenever, the LNG Project in Gulf needs to be scrutinised and reviewed. Obtain independent opinions on the terms of any agreement involving the landowners before signing. Don't make the same mistakes as in Central and in SHP.
      April 25 at 11:59pm ·  ·  2
    • @ gulf people, Remember only fools rush in... So don't be pressured to sign the agreement quickly without fully understanding it and it's impact on the lives of your people...
      April 26 at 12:15am via mobile ·  ·  

    • bro you bet, I have seen enough from these valuable experiences and yes Gulf Province will definitely be taking all the necessary precautions under my Governorship to ensure my people and my Province gets the maximum benefits outfrom this LNG project. I have my own oil/gas drilling coming up sometimes this year (Tuna). It is very timely that I will be going into the parliament now then before when Gulf didnt know about her potential (especially the people) to be a major oil/gas producing Province in PNG. Your service will surely be require and I hereby put you on notice that should yr service be required, I shall call upon you and others like you to help me run my Province..

      April 26 at 6:23pm via  ·  ·  1
    • Go for it Bro ! Its time to change our leaders for the better and all the best in your campaign.
    • This is not only LNG, it is happening in all private sectors. jobs that can be localized, private sectors are bringing in expatriates on consultancy basis. Can we have the government to look into this issue? We are becoming slaves in our own land!!!

    • Can the mainstream media look into this rot where Papua New Guineans are treated second class in their own land. This is not Australia or New Zealand or elsewhere where Pacific Islanders are looked down as second class. I have lived in New Zealand since 1996 and have gone through this crap and shit myself. I am now in the Middle East as a Papua New Guinean expert but I also go through the same discrminatory atttiudes, what they call riding on WHITE PRIVILEDGE. Papua New Guineans should not be intimidated, coerced and treated as second class in their own mother land. I for one would not allow such to happen in my own land and country. Whoever has gone through discrimination of any nature, whether small or big should come out and tell the nation what form and how foreigners are treating our own kind and flesh and blood. This is my land and this is my country and I deserve better.

      April 26 at 8:43pm ·  ·  1
    • Australian jobs for Australians, Canadian jobs for Canadians, English jobs for Englishwo/men,....regulations againt workplace discrimination is well established in these developed countries, however petty jokes, sacarsm, belittling and discrimination is rife. PNGean working overseas will know what I mean. At this time of global uncertainty, this is rumphant. It is time we say PNG jobs for PNGeans. It can be done, it must be done. Where there is a will, there is a WAY. The responsible statutory bodies must voice their concern and ACT for the benefit of Papua New Guieans.