* "Serious criminal act" took place Sept. 24-Exxon
* Project in early stages of development-Exxon
* No one hurt or injured-Exxon
(Adds comment from Exxon)
PERTH, Sept 28 Villagers in Papua New Guinea
attacked Exxon Mobil's liquefied natural gas project late last
week, burning heavy machinery and using high-powered weapons to
damage construction equipment, a newspaper reported.
The attack took place on Friday night at Kaiam, Papua New
Guinea, near the project's Kopi LNG facility, Papua New
Guinea's The National newspaper reported.
The attacks were part of ongoing land disputes within the
footprint of the $15 billion PNG LNG project.
Residents of the area have been frustrated by what they see
as their exclusion from participating in the initial stages of
construction of PNG LNG's 6.6-million-tonne-per-year processing
plant that began this year, the paper said.
No one was wounded or directly threatened in the attacks,
which took place at a quarry site of the Australia-based Clough
Curtain joint venture, Exxon said.
"It was a serious criminal act but did not involve a large
group," the oil company said in a statement sent by email.
Exxon declined to provide any additional details, citing an
ongoing police investigation.
The project is at an early stage of a four-year
construction period, with activities under way in design,
pre-mobilization and early site work, Exxon said.
Media reports have suggested that the project could be
delayed due to landowner disputes with the government.
At a conference in Singapore last week, Papua New Guinea's
minister of planning and development, Paul Tiensten, said there
was "infighting" among the landowners affected by the project,
but said the project was still expected to stay within the
original cost estimate and start exporting LNG in 2014.
Tiensten said some of the 60,000 landowners affected by the
project question the division of benefits from the project.
LNG benefit-sharing negotiations late last year resulted in
violence in Port Moresby and this year a fatal gunbattle
erupted between tribal groups arguing over a share of the
The Papua New Guinea government holds equity in the
project, while Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) is the majority stakeholder.
Other equity holders include Oil Search (OSH.AX), Santos
(STO.AX), and Japan's Nippon.
PNG LNG has long-term supply agreements with China's
Sinopec (0386.HK), Japan's TEPCO (9501.T) and Osaka Gas
(9532.T), and Taiwan's CPC.
(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede, with additional reporting by
Anna Driver in Houston; Editing by Ed Davies and Walter Bagley)