By JEFFREY ELAPA
MORE than 70 suspicious petroleum licences have been issued over the past three years and all of them will now be reviewed, Minister for Petroleum and Energy Francis Potape revealed last week, The National reports.
He said some people owned more than one licence and most of the licences were issued for projects in the Western, Gulf and Southern Highlands.
He said the manner in which the licences had been issued was suspicious and his department “will look into and review all licences”.
He said this during the ministerial review forum at the Institute of Public Administration in Port Moresby last Friday.
Potape said many licences were issued to people and organisations that were not involved in the petroleum industry and the licence holders had not started any explorations.
He said each licensee was required to submit quarterly reports and annual reports but, in the past three years, no reports had been submitted to the department.
“I am appealing to people and firms with questionable licence holders to come forward and meet with my department,” he said.
Potape said the industry was concerned at the manner in which these licences were issued.
He said he “will get to the bottom of it to clean the mess”.
“In the petroleum industry, licensing is really important but these have been sold unnecessarily to firms and people.
“The industry is really rotten and we have to clean the rot in the department to restore investor credibility and confidence,” he said.
Potape said many of them were “farm-in”the licence and making millions of kina.
He said although “farm-in” or trading of licences was not illegal, “the manner in which the licenses were issued is suspicious”.
“The integrity of this nation has to be maintained and should not be sold. Licences are important elements of conducting any business and should not be given away,” he said