According to local media reports, Exxon Mobil has shut down its operations on 19 June 2018 after landowners burnt heavy machinery on PDL 8 site in a show of frustration over alleged non-payment of the Business Development Grant (BDG).

The landowners, reported to be from Angore PDL 8 and Hides PDL 1 to 7, are seeking to recoup K35 million (approximately AU$14,500,000), which is held in a trust and is not being released.

Local media sources have reported that an excavator as well as a drilling machine were burnt, with sections of the road leading to Hides Gas were blocked, limiting police access.

As quoted in Pacific Mining Watch, Exxon Mobil released a statement saying that the company was continuing to monitor ongoing tension in the Highlands.

“We are investigating reports of vandalism relating to the Angore pipeline construction project. Host government security forces are in the area and also investigating. Our staff are all safe.

“Production at the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant is continuing normally. ExxonMobil PNG is committed to maintaining a positive relationship with landowners, the government and the wider community.”

ExxonMobil has had a presence in Papua New Guinea since the 1920s and currently has a workforce of 2,600 in the country, 80 percent of whom are Papua New Guineans. The company operates the PNG LNG project, an integrated development that includes natural gas production and processing facilities, onshore and offshore pipelines, and liquefaction facilities. Production and processing facilities are located in the Southern Highlands, Hela, Western, Gulf and Central provinces of Papua New Guinea. The company also has interests in oil production and fuels marketing.

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