SYDNEY, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of villagers in Papua New Guinea are picketing on Monday at the country's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, after they claim the government has failed to pay them the royalties they are due.
The villagers have assembled outside the major LNG plant in Port Moresby, and have attempted to blockade the plant until their demands are met.
The royalties are due on the 25 billion dollar (19 U.S. billion dollar) project, but have yet to be paid by the government, who contend that there have been difficulties in identifying landowners who are owed remuneration.
The spokesperson for the villagers, Chief Nao Nao said the people just want what they are owed.
"They (the villagers) are unhappy with when they haven't been receiving this royalty until today. So they are all here to show their pleas to the government." Nao Nao said.
The owners of the LNG plant, ExxonMobil, said their operations on the island have remained unaffected.
"ExxonMobil is monitoring the peaceful protest outside the LNG plant in Central Province and continuing to engage with the relevant landowner groups," the company said.
"We hope that landowners and the government can resolve this situation promptly and in an amicable manner."
The villagers had been previously told not to protest by LABA Holdings chairman, Raho Kevau on Wednesday, who called on the people of Papua New Guinea to understand the current predicament the nation is facing.
"We call on the instigators to understand the country's economic problems which we are all facing, the hardships at the moment," Kevau said.
"Let's have patience and wait for the Government to deliver when the time is right."
Court hearings will continue regarding the unpaid royalties, after an alternative resolution process failed.