21 Dec 2012

Australia group warns violence around PNG LNG project could escalate

11:45 am on 21 December 2012

The co-author of an NGO report on the US$19 billion Liquefied Natural Gas Project in Papua New Guinea says too large a share of the risk rests on the PNG state.

Jubilee Australia's investigative report says the project agreement was rushed through without ensuring fair distribution of the benefits, and protection from the impacts, of the project within PNG.

Jubilee's Luke Fletcher warns that violence associated with the project could escalate in coming years because of high expectations in local communities.

He says the government is committed to delivering the gas to buyers and faces significant financial penalties if the gas flow is disrupted.

"What we say in our report is that any violence is likely to meet with a heavy-handed response by the government in order to guarantee that gas flow. And we've seen that happen in the way that PNG's security forces have been called in to mining sites in the past. And so the escalation is the real concern there."

Luke Fletcher says foreign governments such as the US, Australia and Japan shouldn't have signed off on the project agreement until more thorough checks and due diligence were done.