Petroleum Minister calls on Oil Search not to shift blame

The Petroleum Minister, Dr Fabian Pok, has called on Oil Search Limited (OSL) not to shift blame to the PNG Government for not paying royalties to the PNG LNG Project landowners.

He was responding to a report in the Australian Financial Review which quoted Oil Search chairman Rick Lee who said that the PNG government was responsible for the payment of benefits from the PNG LNG venture.

Minister Pok called on Oil Search to clearly indicate the exact amounts in the different benefit streams, and provide the names of beneficiaries of the estimated K14 billion being paid in Royalties, Levies, Tax and Equity as disclosed by the company.

He said from the Government’s records, approximately K4 billion in total for equity, royalties, development levies and tax that have been received since 2014.

However, he said there appears to be a missing K10 billion and is calling for a clarification from the company to where exactly that money is and in whose hands.

He said development levies had been paid however some Royalties have not been paid because they are locked by Court Cases due to the delayed Landowner Identification process.

Minister Pok further reiterated that if OSL is truly campaigning for ‘improved’ transparency around the so-called K14 billion and how royalty payments are being received and spent by the Government, then OSL should disclose what ExxonMobil, Oil Search, Santos and JX Nippon have earned so far, how many cargoes have been exported, what price was paid for each cargo of LNG and tell the people of Papua New Guinea what Tax has been paid, what and how much Foreign currency has been brought into the country.

Going forward, Dr Pok said OSL should work closely with EITI to provide more information on exports and receipts and that OSL should not be using the media to pre-empt negotiations on both Papua LNG and P’nyang Projects or make mere chest beating statements.

“Oil Search is a foreign company, investing in the oil and gas industry and has been the biggest beneficiary of the country’s wealth for many years.”

“The PNG Government then under the leadership of the National Alliance Party of PNG gave the PNG LNG Project on a golden plate, yet Oil Search has been quick to shift the blame.

Dr Pok went on to explain; “Section 47 of the Oil and Gas Act states very clearly that developers are responsible for identifying who the beneficiaries are, before any project development forums or Gas Agreements are negotiated.”

“In PNG LNG Project, ExxonMobil on advice from Oil Search Limited, rushed the Section 47 requirements and relied on Social Mapping reports as complete and pushed ahead with the project development.”

 Dr Pok said the PNG Government had been left to deal with the subsequent social problems since construction began in 2010, compounded especially by trying economic times due to declining oil, LNG prices, Mineral prices and weather related El Nino, and the most recent earthquake.

Freddy Mou