24 Jan 2011

Landowners in PNG dispute legality of LNG agreement

8:05 pm on 24 January 2011

A landowner spokesman in PNG says they are disputing the legality of the agreement for development of the multi-billion dollar LNG project.

Papua New Guinea's chief justice has ordered that a mediation process begin to resolve differences between landowners, the government and the project developers, Exxon Mobil.

Last week work on the LNG project was disrupted by landowners protesting that they hadn't received any of the benefits they have been promised from the project.

Simon Ekanda, who represents 26 clans of the Tugaba tribe, says they are the legal owners of the land where the resources are located.

He says they have filed a Supreme Court reference to nullify legislation governing the project

"Because it doesn't represent the country and its people. The act denies our participation and the act protects foreign investment. That is the underlying issue of ownership in this country."

Simon Ekanda says some politicians have colluded with the developers to exploit resources, while the country's indigenous people remain poor.