PNG tribal violence not our fault: Santos

Armed clansmen in the town of Komo in Papua New Guinea’s Hela Province. Photo: Michael Main

Proper landholder identification is a legal requirement before any resource extraction project takes place in PNG, but Santos says it is not to blame if the LNG project is illegal!

Lisa Martin | Australian Associated Press | 3 May 2018

Energy giant Santos insists it is not the company’s fault villagers in Papua New Guinea are yet to see royalties from a major liquefied natural gas project in the four years since it started.

A report by think-tank Jubilee Australia released this week concluded the project had failed to deliver a promised economic boom and PNG residents “would have been better off” had it not happened at all.

The report, co-written by former Australian treasury official Paul Flanagan, was critical of economic, household income, employment, government revenue and import impacts of the project.

Flows from the ExxonMobil-led project began in 2014 and it now supplies eight million tonnes of gas a year to Japan, South Korea and China.

Delays in the landholder identification process mean locals in Hela province are yet to receive royalties from the project, resulting in tribal violence.

Santos chairman Keith Spence defended the project saying he certainly believes it had benefited Papua New Guineans.

“I can stand here and say we have made a significant difference,” Mr Spence told the company’s annual general meeting in Adelaide.

Mr Spence pointed to the refurbishment of a hospital in Hela province.

“We have met every obligation… the moneys that were promised to the landholders have been paid to the government,” he said.

“It’s for the government then to distribute those funds.”

Jubilee Australia’s Luke Fletcher was skeptical and called for an investigation.

“There are significant discrepancies between what the company says has been paid and what the government says they have received,” Dr Fletcher told AAP.

“The chairman’s blanket claim that the project has been economically beneficial for the people of PNG is based on no evidence.”

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has dismissed the report as “fake news” despite admitting he hadn’t read it.

His Treasurer Charles Abel welcomed the analysis and said there were lessons to learn.

The gas project was partially funded by Australia after the export credit agency Efic made its largest-ever loan of $500 million to ExxonMobil, OilSearch, Santos and the PNG government in 2009.

ExxonMobil PNG managing director Andrew Barry on Wednesday trumpeted the company’s efforts to help get humanitarian relief to remote villages and restore road access following February’s deadly earthquake in the Highlands.

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PNG Prime Minister O’Neill slams report on LNG

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