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Komo Airfield, Papua New Guinea

Komo Airfield, with the longest runway in Papua New Guinea, was built specifically for delivery of equipment for the ExxonMobil led PNG LNG (liquefied natural gas) project. Pre-existing land disputes were intensified by land acquisition for the project


Komo Airfield, in the Hela Province in Papua New Guinea’s mountainous southern highlands, was constructed specifically for delivery of equipment for a liquefied natural gas project, PNG LNG, led by ExxonMobil. Construction of LNG production and processing facilities, connected by 700 kilometres of pipelines, began in 2009. Gas fields and pipeline routes were carved out of steep slopes, in close proximity to thatched hut villages and small terraced farms. Komo Airfield enabled delivery of heavyweight, outsize and delicate equipment for construction of pipelines, a gas conditioning plant wellpads and other LNG facilities that would be difficult or impossible along the area’s narrow, dilapidated roads. Komo Airfield’s 3.2 kilometre runway, the longest in Papua New Guinea, can accommodate Russian-built Antonov An-124 aircraft, the world’s second largest freighter with a 73.3 meter wingspan and sufficient capacity to carry 140 tonnes of cargo.[1] Komo had already been the site of gas exploration activity, predating commencement of PNG LNG and there was an existing airstrip at the Komo Airfield site. PNG LNG’s 2009 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) specified a smaller runway that that which eventually materialized: 1,900 meters long and 30 meters wide, although possible requirement of extra runway length was mentioned. The EIS also specifies Komo Airfield infrastructure comprising a helipad, fuel storage and dispensing facilities, services building, guardhouse, a 2.4 meter high galvanized chain mesh security fence around the facilities and a new road between the airfield and the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant.[2]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Komo Airfield, Papua New Guinea
Country:Papua New Guinea
State or province:Hela Province
Location of conflict:Komo-Magarima District
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Land
Natural Gas
limestone extracted from quarry for airfield construction
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Komo Airfield was built to facilitate the ExonMobil led PNG LNG project at a cost of USD2 billion.[21] MCJV, a joint venture between McConnell Dowell and Consolidated Contractors Company, was awarded the contract to procure and construct Komo Airfield in December 2009.[22]

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Project area:1,500
Level of Investment for the conflictive project2,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:07/09/2011
Company names or state enterprises:ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon) from United States of America - Operator of PNG LNG project
Aurecon from Australia - Excavation of land and transportation of materials for construction on Komo Airport
WT PARTNERSHIP - Appointed to assist Aurecon with budget costs estimates associated with design of Komo Airport
Coffey Natural Systems from Australia - Preparation of Environmental Impact Statement for PNG LNG project
Volga-Dnepr Airlines from Russian Federation - Antonov An-124 freighter flights to Komo Airport delivered equipment for PNG LNG project
McConnell Dowell (MacDow) from New Zealand - Awarded contract to construct Komo Airfield in 2009 in joint venture, called MCJV, with Consolidated Contractors Company
D'Appolonia from United States of America - Independent Environmental and Social Consultant (ISEC), commissioned by PNG LNG financiers to assess the project on an ongoing basis, ensuring adherence to obligations and commitments to landowners. Site visit reports published on PNG LNG website -
Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) from Greece - Awarded contract to construct Komo Airfield in 2009 in joint venture, called MCJV, with McConnell Dowell
National Airports Corporation (NAC) from Papua New Guinea - Signed agreement with ExxonMobil in 2015 making Komo Airfield available for commercial operations and disaster relief operations by the military
Clough Curtain Joint Venture (CCJV) - Upstream infrastructure for PNG LNG including extraction of aggregate to build Komo Airfield
Relevant government actors:Government of Papua New Guinea
Hela Province
National Disaster Centre (NDC)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:LNG Watch PNG
International State Crime Initiative -
Jubilee Australia -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Soil erosion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Oil spills, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Occupational disease and accidents
Potential: Malnutrition
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in violence and crime, Specific impacts on women, Other socio-economic impacts, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Other socio-economic impactsInter-clan conflict
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Rose Bridger, Plane Truth: Aviation’s Real Impacts on People and the Environment, Pluto Press, 2013, pp 114-115
[click to view]

[7] The Forgotten Disaster: Outstanding Issues Arising from the Tumbi Landslide, International State Crime Initiative (ISCI), September 2012
[click to view]

[14] On Shaky Ground, Jubilee Australia, 9 May 2018
[click to view]

[2] Environmental Impact Statement: PNG LNG, Chapter 5: Project Logistics, PNG LNG, January 2009
[click to view]

[3] Papua New Guinean Landslide Survivors Wait in Vain for Justice, IPS News, 9 March 2012
[click to view]

[4] Double anguish for landslide survivors, New Zealand Herald, 24 March 2012
[click to view]

[5] Tumbi Disaster, Papua New Guinea - Dr Kris Lasslett, The Institute for Research in Social Sciences (IRiSS), 28 January 2012
[click to view]

[6] One Year After Fatal Disaster Exxon Mobil Allegations Remain Unanswered, Huffpost, 5 February 2013
[click to view]

[8] D’Appolonia, Report of the: Independent Environmental & Social Consultant, Environmental & Social Compliance Monitoring, Papua New Guinea LNG Project, Site Visit: March 2011, PNG LNG
[click to view]

[9] D’Appolonia, Report of the: Independent Environmental & Social Consultant, Environmental & Social Compliance Monitoring, Papua New Guinea LNG Project, Site Visit: March 2012, PNG LNG
[click to view]

[10] D’Appolonia, Report of the: Independent Environmental & Social Consultant, Environmental & Social Compliance Monitoring, Papua New Guinea LNG Project, Site Visit: October-November 2017, PNG LNG
[click to view]

[11] Komo Airstrip Resettlement Action Plan, PNG LNG, November 2010
[click to view]

[12] Komo Landowners Call for Involvement in Komo Airfield Development, EMTV, 18 February 2015
[click to view]

[13] Papua New Guinea gets a dose of the resource curse as ExxonMobil’s natural gas project foments unrest, The Conversation, 9 March 2017
[click to view]

[15] Komo airport reopens for business, Post Courier, 26 September 2018
[click to view]

[16] Protest disrupts work on LNG airport, Post Courier, 12 September 2011
[click to view]

[17] Landowners give 14 days’ ultimatum, Post Courier, 9 January 2018
[click to view]

[18] Sixteen Komo Clans demand benefits from State and Developer for Airfield, EMTV Online PNG, 21 May 2018
[click to view]

[19] Landowners shut Komo airfield, Loop PNG, 19 June 2018
[click to view]

[20] Komo Airfield landowners give PNG government ‘last warning’ over deal, Asia Pacific Report, 28 July 2018
[click to view]

[21] Use Komo airstrip: KCH, The National, 9 September 2016
[click to view]

[22] McConnell Dowell, 10 December 2009
[click to view]

[23] Volga-Dnepr Airlines Commences Major Project to Natural Gas Field in Papua New Guinea, AVIATIONPROS, 16 May 2013
[click to view]

[24] Volga-Dnepr
[click to view]

[25] Govt to take over Komo airport, The National, 26 February 2014
[click to view]

[26] Komo Airfield to be Made Available for Commercial and Disaster Relief Operations, reliefweb, 2 February 2015
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Komo Landowners Call for Involvement in Komo Airfield Development, EMTV Online, 17 February 2015
[click to view]

Landowner- Concerns over Komo Airfeild.flv, EMTV Online, 25 May 2012
[click to view]

Komo Airfield Landowners Give Less Than 12 Days to Settle Outstanding Benefits, 10 May 2018
[click to view]

LNG Watch and ISCI Question Tumbi Landslide Response - ABC Radio, International State Crime Initiative, 16 February 2012
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3960
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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