4 Responses

  1. Bryant Allen
    Bryant Allen December 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Sam Koim and Stephen Howes can find no solution to how the royalties from the export of gas by the PNG LNG Project can be paid to the “landowners” at Hides. This is because the situation at Hides and in Port Moresby is almost a perfect storm, in which, in addition to those they discuss, a number seemingly unrelated circumstances have come together in a way which may ultimately cause the LNG project and the PNG Government severe difficulties. These include Huli social organisation and land tenure, the fraudulent distribution and massive theft of public money from the benefits agreement grants paid in Port Moresby to individuals representing themselves as Huli leaders in conjunction with allegations of kick-backs to those who approved the payments, the general incompetence of public service staff and their deep reluctance to visit or stay in the Hides area, a deep distrust of the banks by individuals at Hides who allege theft of money from their accounts by bank staff and the unwillingness of banks to open branches in the project area. I will comment on the social organisation and land tenure issue.
    Koim and Howes raise the matter of Social Mapping and Landowner Identification Studies. They are much misunderstood documents. These studies were undertaken by a Huli speaking anthropologist with a great deal of experience with Huli culture and practice and were an extension of studies undertaken for the Kutubu oilfield developments by Oil Search Ltd where they have been used successfully. Primarily, they identify, not individual land owners, because that is not possible, but the landowning groups that are found within a Petroleum Development Licence Area (PDLA) within which the project will occupy land and extract gas. These groups have become known universally as “clans”, which raises problems itself, because within PNG there is much misunderstanding of what a clan is.
    The boundaries of the PDLAs are grid squares of the international Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system and are not congruent within Huli clan territory boundaries. Thus some clans may fall outside an area that is due to receive royalty payments by just a few meters. Huli landowners do not know where the PDLA boundaries fall in relation to their clan boundaries. This creates much anxiety among landowners. Oil Search Ltd community affairs staff mapped clan boundaries around its production gas well and gas-to-electricity facility at Hides in the 1990s. Esso Highlands Ltd did not accept that its field staff should do similar boundary mapping within the LNG area on the grounds that it was the government’s responsibility to do it (which it is).
    The Huli owners of the PDLAs within which the PNG LNG operates organise themselves in a way that many other PNGeans find difficult to grasp because it differs from what they are familiar with. Other PNG highlanders in particular, are commonly confused and even disparaging of, Huli social organisation and land tenure.
    The Huli “clan” is known as a hameigini. The Huli clan territory, that is the land, is also known as a hameigini. The boundaries of Huli clan land are usually clearly identified by deep ditches and are not often disputed. Where the land is disputed, the dispute is usually related to how the people who presently occupy the land are classified, how they classify themselves, or over what sort of rights they have to occupy the land.
    People can claim membership of a clan by direct descent from a male, their father or grandfather and so on. People who can do this are called tene. Tene are the primary clan members. As long as they can demonstrate their descent by citing genealogical evidence that is agreed to as being sound by other tene members, their membership and their occupation of land belonging to their clan cannot be contested. Tene clan members can make their land available to non-tenes to occupy or use, especially relatives from other parts of Hela.
    People may also claim membership of a clan through a female, their mother or grandmother for example, who will be the daughter of a tene clan member. Clan members who do this are known as yamuwine. An individual is yamuwine, even if he traces his descent from a very distant female ancestor. An individual yamuwine clan member who participates fully in clan activities such as fights and exchanges, who contributes generously pigs and food to funerals and compensations, and who proves to be a wise and strategic leader, can become known as “just like a tene”. Nevertheless, should he come into dispute over clan land with a tene clan member, he will remain at a disadvantage, because a tene member has primary rights which will usually not be able to be overridden by a yamuwine member.
    Over a number of generations, whole groups of people who trace their descent from a yamuwine ancestor, come to be known as yamuwine sub-clans or even yamuwine clans. Such groups cannot deal with their land without consulting with the tene clan that they emerged from a number of generations ago. A common cause of a dispute and sometimes vicious fighting is a yamuwine clan or sub-clan declaring itself tene and adopting tene rights over the land it occupies. On the other hand, a tene clan may decide to treat a yamuwine group as “just like tene”.
    A third level of clan membership are known as wali haga. They may be relatives wives or friends. A tene or a long time yamuwine clan member can invite such people to come and reside within the clan land and to grow food there.
    This sort of social organisation has a number of implications: an individual who is tene in one clan can be yamuwine in another. He can legitimately occupy and use land in more than one clan territory. In the past many men had more than one residence. A study of a clan near Tari in the 1950s found 40% of males had at least one additional residence outside the clan land. This had fallen to 20% by 1978. Two major advantages of more than one residence were first, the ability to make gardens in more than one environment and second, to have a place of refuge in the case of a fight gone wrong. Nowadays, an additional advantage is the ability to move to a clan territory within a PDLA that will receive payments from royalties from a clan territory that is outside a PDLA and so will receive nothing.
    The emergence of yamuwine clans has other implications when payments of royalties are considered. The tene landowners will attempt to be the recipients of the payments and will want to redistribute a share to the yamuwine sub-clans. The yamuwine members will resent this and may try to reclassify themselves as tene, often seen by tene members, as a very provocative thing to do.
    A very important implication of this situation is that it is all but impossible for an outsider to determine the clan membership of any particular individual. Even for clan members, membership of some individuals and groups is arguable, and the Huli spend a lot of time debating just such matters. In the circumstance of a large amount of money about to come to one group and not to another, to ask an individual which clan they are a member of is extremely unreliable. Clan and individual histories may be fabricated, clan leaders may not know the history of their occupation of particular land and individuals whose ancestors moved to a clan territory several generations ago may not be able demonstrate their rights to be in occupation, or may make them up. Other than long, drawn out public debates, many of which come to no agreement anyway, membership of Huli landowning groups cannot be determined. In addition, identifying land owners once is just the beginning of the task for outside administrators. Clan members are born and die or are adopted in, every day so to properly keep track of who are clan members will require continual monitoring.
    This situation has been understood by Lands and Community Affairs staff contracted to Esso Highlands Ltd since the beginning of the project but their advice that the government would almost certainly be unable to identify landowners to receive royalty payments was not understood by senior managers.
    If it is not possible to identify individual landowners, how can royalties be paid to landowners? Koim and Howes raise the possibility of using Incorporated Land Groups (ILGs). In addition to the requirements to register an ILG listed by them, an individual can only be registered as a member of one ILG, a restriction that is totally unsuitable to Huli. This is one reason why ILGs were not previously used to register Huli landowners.
    At Hides, landowners repeatedly say they will accept royalty payments made to clan representatives, (“clan agents”) as long as the payments are made in cash and in public, so that everybody can see who receives the money and can know how much they received. They say any other form of payment is open to fraudulent dealings and theft by public servants, clan leaders and politicians. The recent history of payments made in Port Moresby under the Development Grants and the Business Development Grants of the LNG USBA and LSBA suggests they are right to be concerned.
    This approach was used to pay a K243,000 deprivation grant to the landowners of the Komo airfield. The clans owning the land and their agents were identified by EHL community affairs staff as part of an extended mapping exercise before construction of the airfield began. The cash was placed in large envelopes and as the name of the clan was called out, the cash was removed from the envelope and shown to the watching clan members, then placed back in the envelope and given to the agent. By the end of the payment, clans members had formed groups and cash was being distributed to them by the agents. Lands and Community Affairs field staff visited the areas affected in the days after the payment and sought complaints from people who believed they had not received a fair share. The only complaint received was from a man in Port Moresby who demanded he be paid there. His clan agent said he had been away from Komo for many years and had not contributed to the clan’s affairs and so would not receive a share. Such payments are allowed under the O&G Act. This was a much smaller exercise than that which will be required to pay royalties, where many more clans are involved. The biggest problem with the Komo payment was the maintenance of security over a large amount of cash being moved within easy access of heavily armed criminal gangs located elsewhere in Hela, and in Southern Highlands and Western Highlands.

    1. Stephen Howes
      Stephen Howes December 19, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      hi Bryant,

      Thanks for this extensive comment and analysis. A couple of reactions. Sam Koim and I don’t “raise the possibility” of using ILGs to pay royalties. We note that this mechanism is mandated by the 2009 benefit sharing agreements. More broadly, your analysis touches on many broader issues we were unable to cover in our post. It reminded me of Colin Filer’s excellent seminar on the PNG LNG landowner issues (see https://devpolicy.crawford.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/events/attachments/2016-09/smli_seminar_sept_2016.pdf). As you know, Colin distinguished between three approaches: pragmatic, idealistic and individualistic. You are advocating a pragmatic approach (cash payments to clan representatives). PNG has taken the idealistic approach (payment to ILGs). But that now has an individualistic element to it since ILGs require listing of individual members to be constituted, and, as you say, each individual can only belong to one ILG. Put in these terms, your argument is that the indvidualistic, idealistic approach cannot work in the context of the PNG LNG project. I am not expert enough to judge one way or another. Clearly, these issues should have been resolved, as the law requires, prior to the commencement of construction. How they will be resolved now is very hard to see indeed.

      Regards,

      Stephen

      1. Bryant Allen
        Bryant Allen December 19, 2016 at 2:52 pm

        Stephen,
        I was away for Colin’s seminar. It was be a joint effort but I was in PNG so we just talked about options before I left. I am not arguing for only one answer. Like you, I don’t have one. I think the Huli landowners have to come up with one but it has be sorted out at Hides, not in POM or anywhere else. – B

  2. Mark Davis
    Mark Davis December 16, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Excellent, as far as it goes (the full version of criminal misbehaviour, fraud, violence, deceit etc etc in the PNG resources sector would be longer than the Encyclopedia Britannica). However your reference to the judicial Alternative Dispute Resolution scam drew my attention. This is a very clear example of the judicial corruption evident in Papua New Guinea, and warrants investigation. There are a number of variations on the theme, and more than one judge is involved.

Leave a Reply