PNG and ExxonMobil sign K151 billion gas deal signed despite court order

Papua New Guinea has signed   K151 billion (US$44 billion) P’nyang liquefied natural gas project deal with the developer ExxonMobil  despite a court order stopping it.

But Prime Minister James Marape told The National that they were not aware of the order issued by the National Court.

“We are not aware. We haven’t been served any court orders,” he said.

PNG and ExxonMobil  sign K151 billion  gas deal signed despite court order

“Everybody knows we were signing (the gas agreement) on Tuesday (yesterday). They had every (opportunity before yesterday) to serve us the court orders. We will go to court to defend what we have done.”

The order was issued by acting judge Justice Emma Wurr around 10am yesterday after an urgent application for a stay was filed by North Fly MP James Donald through lawyer Ralph Saulep.

Donald named Petroleum Minister Kerenga Kua, the State and Esso P’nyang PNG Ltd, (a subsidiary of ExxonMobil), as defendants in the case.

Justice Wurr after hearing submissions from Saulep ordered that the defendants be restrained from signing the P’nyang gas agreement until further orders of the court.

The court also ordered Donald to file and serve the defendants necessary court documents by today (Feb 23). All parties are to return to court on Friday for a hearing. Saulep said copies of the court order were sent electronically (via WhatsApp) to the Attorney-General, Petroleum Minister and ExxonMobil’s office between 10am and 10.30am yesterday.

Marape was reportedly at Government House by around noon.

Saulep said a copy of the order was to have been served at Government House but policemen refused him entry.

“Justice Emma Wurr granted the orders sought. “Defendants are restrained from executing the gas agreement until the court otherwise orders. As soon as the orders were issued and sealed, we served the orders electronically which is the accepted means of serving many documents these days.

“They were served around 10am and 10.30am (yesterday).

“The court issued the orders before the signing of the agreement. We believe that court orders were brought to attention of all parties on time.” Saulep said they had to file the stay application because “an agreement becomes law once it’s signed”.

“The client’s concern is that once the agreement is signed, it cannot be reviewed,” he said.

“Secondly, once the agreement is signed, ExxonMobil becomes the monopoly as far as gas production is concerned.” Marape, ExxonMobil PNG Ltd and its partners signed the agreement for the proposed development of P’nyang.


Next : Papua LNG nearing deal, says PNG Petroleum Minister Kua

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