25 Jan 2011

ExxonMobil plays down violence at PNG project site

6:29 pm on 25 January 2011

The developer of the multi-billion dollar LNG project in Papua New Guinea is downplaying reports of a violent rampage at one of its sites, but says any violence is unacceptable.

ExxonMobil has shut down operations at the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant following the incident.

Jo O'Brien reports

"ExxonMobil says order was quickly restored after an unknown number of intruders illegally entered a Southern Highlands project camp and were removed by police last Friday. The company says four camp residents were treated for minor injuries at the site, and no material damage was done to facilities or equipment. It says the motive for the invasion remains unclear, but police say the violence is alleged to have been sparked by the belief of locals that a young boy had died after consuming a substance from the LNG operation. Police say more than two hundred people were involved in the violence, but the situation is under control following the deployment of more police. However, ExxonMobil says it's shut down the Hides plant until the safety of project personnel can be assured. It says other project sites are operating as normal."