Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Piping Out Southern Highlands Province

With the LNG project, the Southern Highlands and newly established Hela Province have elevated PNG’s profile in the Liquefied and Natural Gas in the global oil and gas production. The PNG LNG project which is referred to many as the economic “savior” of the country proposes to develop gas fields in the Southern Highlands and Western Province of PNG and transport the gas via pipeline to an LNG facility near Port Moresby for shipment to markets overseas.

Amidst the controversies surrounding the signing of the Benefit Sharing Agreement (BSA) where key landowning clans refuse to sign and the creation of the Hela province after the signing of the BSA now brewing a lot of grievances on ground as seen in the recent incident where the crowd threw stones at the PM and the government officials, another agreement has been signed for Southern Highlands for yet another resource.

Australia in desperate need for cheap and reliable clean water sources is looking at spending $A30 billion to have it piped over 4000 kilometres to their continent. Papua New Guinea and Australian company Might and Power (M&A) Ltd yesterday entered into an agreement for the latter to carry out pre-feasibility and feasibility studies into the PNG-Australia water project. The environment impact study will be part of a K20 million feasibility study that will be undertaken.

The project hopes to one day pipe fresh water from a number of rivers including the Mendi River in the Southern Highlands Province to Australia, where it will be used to feed dry riverine systems and the pipe will also go all the way to Lake Eyre where the lake has dried up and the local residents have resettled elsewhere.
He said the State and Federal governments had the full backing of the project as they saw there was a big need for fresh and cheap water supply to nearly all the eastern states of Australia. Mr Ariel said rivers in Cape York could not be used for the project because there was no gravity and they dry up during the dry seasons while rivers in the Southern Highlands Province had the gravity and the continuous rainfall to keep flowing all year round. “The advantage for the project (in PNG) is the altitude and the rainfall,” Mr Ariel said. “Water in the Highlands is abundant while it is scarce in Australia.”

PNG and Southern Highlands Province is yet to realize the benefits from LNG have gone ahead to exploit its water resources. The oil and gas will be piped out and now the fresh waters will also be piped out. Why should PNG exploit all its natural resources at the same time as if there is no tomorrow? It is not wise to take everything out of the warehouse at the same time without preserving some for the future generation and therefore it is not wise to have both the LNG and the water project coming out of the same province at the same time.

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