Oil Search acknowledges problems with PNG payouts

7:56 pm on 14 May 2018

The chairman of the energy company Oil Search has increased pressure on the Papua New Guinea government to hand out benefits from the country's liquefied natural gas project.

LNG Project facility, Hela Province, Papua New Guinea

LNG Project facility, Hela Province, Papua New Guinea Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Rick Lee's comments come amid reports of growing resentment from landowners in the hub area of PNG's LNG Project who say they are owed vast sums of money from the venture which Oil Search is a major partner in.

The Australian Financial Review said Mr Lee was grilled at a shareholder meeting in Port Moresby, where he acknowledged frustrations about a lack of transparency about royalties paid to the government.

Four years into the LNG project, which is lead-operated by ExxonMobil, three licences are caught up in legal battles, while others are running late as qualifying landowners are still being identified.

Mr Lee said the company was working hard to get the benefits distributed, while arguing that it is the responsibility of the PNG government.

But that didn't wash with disgruntled shareholders, who told the newspaper the company didn't seem to have a clear pathway to sort the distribution mess, regardless of whose fault it is.

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