Head of PNG Power resigns, citing issues with govt

3:05 pm on 30 August 2019

The head of Papua New Guinea's main electricity provider has resigned, citing problems in the utility's relationship with government.

Carolyn Blacklock has announced that her resignation as acting Managing Director of PNG Power is effective immediately.

The CEO of PNG Power, Carolyn Blacklock, with Bougainville's President, John Momis

The CEO of PNG Power, Carolyn Blacklock, with Bougainville's President, John Momis Photo: supplied

Ms Blacklock said in recent months PNG Power has suffered badly from lack of payment for electricity from its largest customer and shareholder, the government

In a statement, she alluded to bullying and intimidation she faced, adding that the chief secretary of government Isaac Lupari undermined her dealings over the proposed Dirio power station.

"What concerns me most is that PNG Power under my leadership has been unable to achieve dispatching power from the commissioned, low cost, clean gas fired NiuPower Power Station," she said.

"As a result, our costs have remained high and we are unable to sustain the double impact of continuing higher costs due to the failure to dispatch from NiuPower and Government not paying its way for electricity."

In response, Mr Lupari criticised Ms Blacklock's management style, and accused her of being against the landowner-driven Dirio project from the start.

"Instead she has been doing everything within her power to give approval to Niupower, which is owned by Oil Search Limited and KPHL (Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited)," he said.

"Carolyn has been obstructive and 'hell bent' on stopping this simple people's investments (sic) which is consistent with the government stated policy."

The chief secretary, who is a director of DirioGas & Power Company Ltd, said he always declared his conflict of interest during government deliberations on such matters.

PNG Power office, Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea.

PNG Power office, Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

"Chief Secretary has made no secret of the fact he believes I am not fit to hold the position of MD and has increasingly made any dealings impossible including those with the proposed Dirio power station," Ms Blacklock explained.

Ultimately, she decided to leave the utility after 18 months in charge, saying she wanted to "make way for a more productive, healthy relationship" with government.

"I have made a very hard but strategic decision to stand down in the hope it allows relations between PNG Power and our shareholder to normalise and thus allow the reform of our company to continue," she said.