In Papua New Guinea, Exxon’s Giant LNG Project Fuels Frustration

From her red-roofed home near Papua New Guinea’s capital of Port Moresby, Isabelle Dikana Iveiri overlooks a giant plant used by Exxon Mobil Corp. to liquefy billions of dollars’ worth of natural gas before it is shipped to Asian buyers.

Dikana Iveiri can also see swaths of muddy shoreline, where mangroves have been felled for firewood by locals who don’t have electricity, gas, or money to buy either.

The $19 billion Exxon-led PNG LNG project was supposed to be a game-changer for PNG, a vast South Pacific archipelago beset by poverty despite its wealth of natural resources.

But much of the promised riches, through taxes to the government, royalties to landowners and development levies to communities, have arrived well below Exxon’s own commissioned forecasts, if at all, according to landowners, the World Bank and the PNG government.