Professor of Political and Social Science at the Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL), Victor Soares, said Timor-Leste’s political uncertainty might impede the development of Greater Sunrise (GS) oil and gas fields and its pipeline to Timor-Leste.
Victor made the comment amid the setback of the Timor-Leste’s government’s plan to buy out ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell’s holding in Greater Sunrise fields after President of the Republic Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo vetoed the Amendments to the Petroleum Activities Law last month.
Despite the veto, the Timorese government continued pushing for the buyout by putting US$650 million in the 2019 State Budget causing fear that President of the Republic might also veto the 2019 state budget.
“If we buyout ConocoPhillips’ 30 percent and Shell’s 26 percent stakes, we have the right to push for Greater Sunrise Development and its pipeline to Timor-Leste, but the current political standoff and the separation of national leaders have impacted on the development of Greater Sunrise and its pipeline,” Victor told Timor Post at UNTL campus on Wednesday (09/01).
The Sunrise and Troubadour gas fields, together known as Greater Sunrise, were discovered in 1974 and hold around 5.1 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to the project’s operator, Australia’s Woodside Petroleum.
The development of Greater Sunrise gas field had been long delayed due to a protracted maritime dispute between Australia and Timor-Leste that was finally agreed upon in March 2018 which put the majority of the fields into Timor-Leste’s ownership. Since then TimorLeste has stepped up its efforts to pipe Greater Sunrise to Timor-Leste to boost its economic development.
Victor said Greater Sunrise was national issue, therefore, he called on national leaders to put aside their differences and uphold national interest to bring prosperity to the country.