Monday, January 24, 2011

LNG dispute resolutions being finalised for court



THE terms of reference for an alternative dispute resolution process, on all court matters relating to the multi-billion kina liquefied natural gas project, are being finalised and will be presented to the National Court for its endorsement, The National reports.

These terms of references would enable mediation among LNG partners dealing with the Kokopo UBSA and LBBSA of May 22, 2008, and December 2009.

Last month, and again last week, Justice Ambeng Kandakasi ordered that terms of reference for a mediation process be drawn up for all parties involved in the LNG project to use during mediation.

According to a draft terms of reference, the mediation process would cover Hides PDL 1 and 7, Angore PDL 8, Juha PDL 9, the Hides gas conditioning plant site, Komo Airport, pipeline, Moran PDL 5 and PDL 6, Kutubu PDL 2, Gobe PDL 3 and PDL 4 and the processing facility areas.

It would also cover other LNG dispute areas.

Counsel representing all aggrieved LNG project landowners Justin Hayara of Steel Lawyers would present the terms of reference at the National Court this week.

Issues to be covered under the terms of reference included:

  • Issues of eligibility or powers to receive business development grant and recognition as licensed-based umbrella company and umbrella associations;
  • Proceedings challenging customary landownership based on block concept with PDL area;
  • Proceeding seeking payment of outstanding MoA funds;
  •  Proceedings challenging the validity or otherwise of ministerial determination and social mapping of landowner identification studies;
  • Proceeding challenging the validity of the PNG gas agreement, Kokopo UBSA and LBBSA;
  • Proceeding challenging the validity of legislative provision, SCR No.5 of 2010, SCR No.07 of 2010; and
  • Proceedings as to the election of directors and appointment of bank signatures – WS No.05 of 2011 – Portion 152.

Under the terms of reference, documents required would include the cost and benefit analysis done by the National Fiscal and Economic Commission, co-coordinated development and operation agreement referred to in the PNG LNG agreement, the content of Abu Dhabi financial deal and records of Land Titles Commission and the local land court or provincial land court in respect of the land within each licensed areas.

All the relevant government departments who have been involved in the LNG project would be parties to the mediation along with the plaintiffs.

Other parties included:

  • The developers led by Esso Highlands Ltd;
  • The state comprising the solicitor-general, attorney-general and his secretary and all secretaries and their deputies from the departments of petroleum and energy, national planning and monitoring, finance, treasury, commerce and industry,  lands and physical planning, and works;
  • Provincial administrators of Southern Highlands, Gulf, Western and Central;
  • Hela Transitional Authority led by the chief executive officer; and
  • National Gas Corporation led by its chairman Alfred Kaiabe.


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