State tasks MRDC to lead PNG LNG Hides landowner issue

The state has begun taking steps to resolve outstanding landowner issues arising from the PNG LNG project.

This came about after landowners from Petroleum Development Licence areas 1 and 7 staged a peaceful protest outside the Hides Gas Conditioning plant demanding that the state honour its commitments under the Umbrella Benefits Sharing Agreement (UBSA) and Licence Based Sharing Agreement (LBBSA) in 2009.

A high profile ministerial delegation led by the Minister for Petroleum and Energy, Nixon Duban, flew to Hides to meet with the protesting landowners. MRDC Managing Director Augustine Mano was part of the delegation and took the lead in addressing the landowners on behalf of the team.

In two separate petitions, the PDL 1 and PDL 7 landowners demanded that the state release all their outstanding Infrastructure Development Funds (IDG) and complete the clan vetting process among other issues so they could receive pending benefits.

After a two-week negotiation between the state and frustrated landowners, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed to address some of the outstanding issues raised in the petition.

The MOA states that the state would adhere to a 7-day ultimatum for K35 millions of IDG to be released to the Hides Special Purpose Authority (HSPA) account while a 30-day ultimatum was given to address other outstanding issues including the completion of clan vetting process.

Mr Mano explained the role of MRDC in the scheme of things. He told the landowners that the MRDC would only come in to manage and pay all outstanding royalties and their 2% equity benefits once the CVPLOID process is completed by the Department of Petroleum and Energy.

He also assured the landowners that all their outstanding benefits were safe and that it was kept in their respective trust accounts of which bank statements were presented to the landowners as proof.

“MRDC officers will be on the ground with relevant agencies to facilitate the opening of bank accounts for landowners once the government processes are complete and handed over to MRDC,” Mr Mano said.

Mr Mano also announced the two subsidiary companies set up by MRDC to manage their royalty and equity benefits being Gas Resources Hides 4 for PDL 7 and Gas Resources Gigira for PDL 1.

He also announced subsidiary companies for the remaining PNG LNG project beneficiaries in Gas Resources Juha, Gas Resources Angore, Gas Resources Kutubu, Gas Resources Gobe, Gas Resources Moran, Gas Resources North West Moran, Gas Resources Plant and Gas Resources Pipeline. He reminded Hides landowners that the LNG project is a unitised project in which everyone is entitled to benefit from the royalty and equities as per the UBSA & LBBSA 2009

At the printing of this publication the K35 million IDG was being prepared to be released as promised by the Petroleum and Energy Minister, Mr Nixon Duban via the signed MoA.