By Theckla Gunga – EMTV News, Port Moresby
The signing of the PNG LNG Ministerial Declaration for PDL 1 and 7 brings resource owners in Hela Province one step closer to accessing their royalty or equity payments. Millions of kina which accumulated since the LNG production commenced in 2014 will be paid to landowners once the ministerial declaration is gazetted and block leaders in PDL 1 and 7 are elected.
The payments are expected to be released through Mineral Resources Development Company or MRDC towards the middle of 2019. A Government delegation consisting of parliamentarians and Exxon Mobil staff, visited landowners in Hides 4 and Juni, where the Ministerial Statement was signed by Petroleum Minister, Fabian Pok.
The statement signifies the conclusion of the Landowner Beneficiaries Identification process or LOBID Exercise, which outlines the rightful landowners either in the affected or impacted communities along the LNG site. It also marks the start of the process towards electing directors in the different blocks in both PDL 1 and 7 who will be tasked to collect payments through MRDC.
28 days have been given to the resource owners to go through the signed ministerial declaration and resolve any queries amongst themselves before they can vote for their block leaders. Come 8th of April and if there are no major queries, MRDC and Electoral Commission officers will conduct the election of block leaders and open accounts so payments can be processed.
These payments are in millions of kina and it has taken over four years to reach this step. Much of the delay has been on court disputes over who the legitimate landowners are, and Minister Pok urged all landowners to work together so their equity will be paid sooner rather than later.