Ti­mor Sea oil field res­o­lu­tion in sight

The Australian Energy Review - - NEWS - EL­IZ­A­BETH FABRI

AUS­TRALIA and Ti­mor-leste are a step closer to set­tling a decade-long dis­pute over the $40 bil­lion Ti­mor Sea oil and gas field, af­ter draft­ing up a new treaty both par­ties are set to sign by the year’s end. In mid-oc­to­ber, The Per­ma­nent Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion (PCA) an­nounced the Gov­ern­ment’s had reached an agree­ment on treaty text fol­low­ing a se­ries of con­fi­den­tial meet­ings with the Con­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion. The draft treaty de­fines the mar­itime boundary and ad­dresses the le­gal sta­tus of the Greater Sun­rise gas field, the es­tab­lish­ment of a spe­cial regime for Greater Sun­rise, and path­way to de­vel­op­ment for the re­source and the shar­ing of the re­sult­ing rev­enue. Both coun­tries had been in ne­go­ti­a­tions since the in­ter­na­tional court an­nounced it would take on the case in Septem­ber 2016; a last at­tempt to end the con­flict. “The Con­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion has met reg­u­larly with the gov­ern­ments of Ti­mor-leste and Aus­tralia over the last year and has come to know their rep­re­sen­ta­tives very well,” Com­mis­sion chair Am­bas­sador Pe­ter Tak­søe-jensen said. “I am en­cour­aged re­gard­ing the spirit with which the par­ties are ap­proach­ing the joint de­vel­op­ment of re­sources. It has been a plea­sure to see the gov­ern­ments of Ti­mor-leste and Aus­tralia form­ing a com­mon po­si­tion and stand­ing to­gether to en­sure that the re­sources of the seabed are de­vel­oped to the ben­e­fit of both peo­ples.” Aus­tralia and Ti­mor-leste were now fi­nal­is­ing do­mes­tic ap­provals, and en­gage­ment with the Greater Sun­rise Joint Ven­ture com­pris­ing Wood­side (33.44 per cent), Conoco Phillips (30 per cent), Shell (26.56 per cent), and Osaka Gas (10 per cent). The Greater Sun­rise fields are lo­cated 150km south-east of Ti­mor-leste and 450km north-west of Dar­win, NT, and con­tain 5.13 tril­lion cu­bic feet (Tcf) of gas and 225.9 mil­lion bar­rels of con­den­sate. On 6 Novem­ber, Ti­mor Leste and Aus­tralia be­gan ne­go­ti­a­tions with the JV, which was the first time all par­ties had met to­gether for sev­eral years. The Ti­mor-leste Gov­ern­ment has been adamant for years that the JV de­velop an on­shore LNG pro­cess­ing plant on Ti­mor-leste soil in­stead of pip­ing gas to the ex­ist­ing Dar­win LNG plant or ex­ploit the field through a float­ing LNG ves­sel. How­ever signs were be­gin­ning to look up for the JV, with Ti­mor-leste Prime Min­is­ter Mari Alkatiri re­port­edly telling The Aus­tralian “ev­ery­thing is on the ta­ble”. “We’ve al­ready agreed on the mar­itime boundary, we are now dis­cussing with the joint ven­ture the eco­nom­ics part of the agree­ment,” Dr Alk­i­tari said. How­ever, Mr Alkatiri’s of­fice re­sponded stat­ing “we firmly main­tain our po­si­tion that the gas pipeline must come to Ti­mor-leste”. Ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the three par­ties are ex­pected to con­tinue over the com­ing weeks.

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