|Friday, 13 April 2012|
IN LIGHT of social media interest over the cause of the recent death at the PNG LNG project, an ExxonMobil spokesperson has further clarified the Papua New Guinean national was not gunned down.
|The PNG LNG joint venture's logo|
Radio New Zealand first stirred up speculation on Friday with a report which featured the views of an onshore pipeline construction worker known as “Mike”.
He reportedly said a fracas broke out at the Tamadegi camp in the Southern Highlands “after some of the local workers began throwing rocks”.
“Then these police got up and then opened fire on all the employees who were unarmed,” he reportedly said.
“They didn’t even have any bushknives, they were just only throwing stones. They [police] started firing at an employee, I mean, they didn’t give a warning shot by shooting the bullets away, they just aimed straight at an employee that resulted in one of these employees got shot and then died.”
This week an Exxon spokesperson told PNGIndustryNews.net the cause of the death and whether it was related to a breach of security beforehand was not yet known.
“We understand there was an initial media report linking gunfire to his death,” the spokesperson said. “Information we have indicates this was not the case.”
But there are views in some PNG blogs stating the worker was shot by police.
These blogs have posted images of the deceased man in question – although it is not clear from these images that this man did receive fatal gunshot wounds.
On whether the man appeared to have been shot, the Exxon spokesperson provided more clarity.
“We understand that no gunshots were found on the deceased,” he told PNGIndustryNews.net on Wednesday.
While an investigation into the incident remains underway, the PNG LNG project operator has revealed the security breach which preceded it occurred at the Tamadigi area EPC 5A camp 4, which was operated by pipeline contractor Spiecapag.
Work has been suspended in this area and Exxon said there was damage to camp facilities.
As the PNG government is also a significant stakeholder of the PNG LNG project, police resources have been devoted to helping out with the project’s security.
Institute of National Affairs PNG executive director Paul Barker told PNG Report late last year that the country had about 3000 police operating in the field and about 1000 had basically undertaken security duties for the PNG LNG project, “partly at the expense of the project developers”.
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