Minister responds to Western leaders

The benefit sharing negotiations of a gas project will only take place after a gas agreement has been signed between the State and project developers.

Petroleum Minister, Kerenga Kua, said this when responding to Western Province leaders who announced the withdrawal of their support from the P’nyang Project.

Over the weekend, Western Province Governor, Taboi Awi Yoto, and North Fly MP, James Donald, announced they were withdrawing their support from the P’nyang Gas Project negotiations.

They claim the province’s interests were not incorporated into the main frame Term Sheet by the State Negotiating Team (SNT).

In a media conference today, Petroleum Minister Kua said: “The negotiations on how to split the State benefits share between the State, provincial government, LLGs and landowners will only take place after a gas agreement, if any, has been signed. At this stage the SNT is negotiating the State’s overall take.

“If a gas agreement is signed we will at that point know what the ‘total sale’ for the State is. After that the State will meet with provincial governments, LLGs, LOs etc to discuss how to divide the State’s share between all beneficiary groups.”

Minister Kua said as an example, the Papua LNG Gas Agreement has been signed yet negotiations on the benefit sharing have not yet taken place.

Kua said the Western leaders are entitled to express their views however, when sensitive negotiations are in progress and leaders have access to confidential information, they must treat it as such.

The Minister said he and the Prime Minister are always available to speak with anyone before statements are released as premature statements can derail and compromise their position in the State Negotiations.  

Cedric Patjole