3 Jul 2006

PNG landowners threaten to delay oil project unless charges against governor dropped

8:12 pm on 3 July 2006

Landowners in a Papua New Guinea province set to supply gas to Australia are threatening to shut down energy projects unless allegations their governor stole money are dropped.

The 226 Southern Highlands landowners say they will force Oil Search to close its Kutubu oil field project unless PNG's Ombudsman's Commission withdraws its referral of the provincial governor Hami Yawari to the public prosecutor.

The Post Courier newspaper reports the landowners also warn they will stop negotiations on the proposed PNG-Queensland gas pipeline.

Mr Yawari is alleged to have taken money from a local government authority, spent it on himself and failed to disclose personal income details to the Ombudsman as required of public leaders.

The governor has launched court action against last week's referral, saying it ignored his explanations and he has never stolen or wrongfully used public monies.