Jody Michael
(Photo by Céline Rouzet/Pulitzer Center)

The government has promised 120 million kina ($56,424,000) to help landowner companies located in the impacted area competitively service the Exxon Mobil consortium’s gas project. The first distribution of these grants in September and December 2010 triggered resentment. It was quickly alleged that the grants were not distributed fairly and that they were used for improper purposes by “paper landowners” who negotiated them through “locked door deals.”
In January 2011, a thousand people shut down work at the Hides 4 wellhead and the LNG conditioning plant site at Para village in the Hela region. The National Court issued orders to temporarily freeze all LNG associated payments to “prevent fraud and misappropriation.”
The next month, landowner groups led a protest in the capital demanding payments of the grants and taking three Petroleum and Energy Department officers hostage. National Planning Secretary Joseph Lelang also made accusations of political interference in the allocation of the grants. After several petitions, fraud allegations and demonstrations, the then Deputy Prime Minister Sam Abal declared that some government departments involved in administering business development grants would be “cut off from having a direct involvement with landowner payments.”

Papua New Guinea: Exxon Mobil and Local Landownership | Pulitzer Center

(Photo by Céline Rouzet/Pulitzer Center)

The government has promised 120 million kina ($56,424,000) to help landowner companies located in the impacted area competitively service the Exxon Mobil consortium’s gas project. The first distribution of these grants in September and December 2010 triggered resentment. It was quickly alleged that the grants were not distributed fairly and that they were used for improper purposes by “paper landowners” who negotiated them through “locked door deals.”

In January 2011, a thousand people shut down work at the Hides 4 wellhead and the LNG conditioning plant site at Para village in the Hela region. The National Court issued orders to temporarily freeze all LNG associated payments to “prevent fraud and misappropriation.”

The next month, landowner groups led a protest in the capital demanding payments of the grants and taking three Petroleum and Energy Department officers hostage. National Planning Secretary Joseph Lelang also made accusations of political interference in the allocation of the grants. After several petitions, fraud allegations and demonstrations, the then Deputy Prime Minister Sam Abal declared that some government departments involved in administering business development grants would be “cut off from having a direct involvement with landowner payments.”

Papua New Guinea: Exxon Mobil and Local Landownership | Pulitzer Center

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