ATTORNEY-General Sir Arnold Amet is adamant the state owns all resources found six feet or deeper in the land, The National reports. This included minerals and oil, he said.
Refuting ambassador Peter Donigi of Warner Shand Lawyers, who claimed that the state did not own natural resources, Sir Arnold said the Petroleum Act and Mining Act vested ownership of minerals and petroleum resources with the state.
The former chief justice said, as such, the state was the proper party to the gas agreement and it had validly executed the gas agreement (PNG LNG Agreement of May 22, 2008).
“Both the Oil and Gas Act 1998 and the Mining Act 1992 vest ownership of minerals and petroleum resources with the state,” Sir Arnold said in a statement last Friday.
“These two acts adopted state ownership rights for minerals and petroleum resources from pre-independence laws.”
Sir Arnold said Donigi had previously raised the issue in the National Court on a number of occasions and, each time, the court had ruled ownership rested with the state.
“Donigi has and continues to incite landowners from the LNG project areas with his vague argument, instead of pursuing legal redress through the higher courts to have the matter resolved,” the attorney-general said.
Attempts to get comments from Donigi failed as he was said to be in Hela.
The relevant laws state that all minerals and petroleum resources lying six feet below the surface of the land belong to the state.
There is a private member’s bill promoted by North Fly MP Boka Kondra that seeks to amend those particular clauses to vest all ownership of minerals and hydrocarbon resources in the owners of the land on which the resources are found.
It is yet to be made into law.