LOs grant access to ExxonMobil

Access was granted to the developer, ExxonMobil, to blocked well pads and the Hides conditioning plant yesterday after successful negotiations between the landowners and the government.

The negotiations, which began last Wednesday after the landowners locked the gates to some well pads and the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant, ended with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday between the state and landowners of PDL 1 and 7.

The MoU basically sets out a way forward for the government and the landowners to achieve their objectives within the next 30 days.

The 30-day period starts today. The employees of the Department of Petroleum and Energy will start the clan vetting process to identify landowners of these two PDL areas.

This process will set the stage for Incorporated Land Groups (ILGs) to be created, leaders of these ILGs to be elected, a final ministerial determination to be signed, a window period given to verify names of clans and clan members, bank accounts opened and the royalties paid.

While this is a huge task for the government to undertake within a short period of time, Petroleum and Energy minister, Nixon Duban, said they are committed to ensure this process is completed and landowners receive their benefits.

During the signing yesterday, the government also announced to pay a total of K35 million Infrastructure Development Grants to PDLs 1&7 as part of the outstanding LBBSA commitments – K20m for PDL 1 and K15m for PDL 7.

The Prime Minister has already issued directions to the Departments of Treasury and Finance to have this payment ready so it can be paid next Friday.

This money will be paid to the Hides Special Purpose Authority (HSPA) as stipulated in the agreement and will cater for special projects captured also in that agreement.

HSPA is established by an act of parliament and its operations will be guided by the Public Finance Management Act.

The IDG grants for other licensed petroleum development sites have been paid directly to provincial governments as agreed in the LBBSA.

For now, the clan vetting process will begin. The whole process is expected to be completed on or before September 19th before the royalties are paid.

The royalties are being kept at the Bank of PNG and copies of bank printouts were shown to the landowners yesterday.

Bank statements of their 2 percent free carry equity held by MRDC were also given to them.

Ruth Rungula