28 September 2009

East Timor sets hub land aside

Upstream, 18 September 2009 East Timor sets hub land aside RUSSELL SEARANCKE Darwin, Australia - East Timor has allocated 950 hectares of land along its southern coast that will be used as a services and supply base for the upstream oil and gas industry and for downstream processing including liquefied natural gas.

Alfredo Pires, the country’s Minister for Natural Resources, said the land designated was part of the government’s plan to create a gas hub to service the northern Timor sea fields, while Darwin in northern Australia could continue to service the southern part of the Timor sea.

Currently, all of the main services requirements for exploration and production in the Timor sea between East Timor and Australia come from the Northern territory in Australia.

Pires said the government had allocated 400 hectares in Suai for the development of a supply base, 300 hectares of land in Betano for refineries and petrochemicals, and 250 hectares in Beaco for an LNG facility with production capacity for up to 20 million tonnes per annum of LNG.

These towns are closer to most oil and gas exploration activities and in an area where there are numerous oil and gas seeps, which potentially will be explored in the future,” said Pires. “The shorter distance to the new centres (compared to Darwin) also means savings for the industry. Having these new centres will literally foster a new frontier for East Timor.”

The government is determined that the sunrise LNG plant be located along its south coast, contrary to the Woodside-led Sunrise team’s wishes. the sunrise owners want to develop the project as a floating LNG scheme or via pipeline to Darwin.

The owners aim to file a field development plan to the joint East Timor-Australian commission this year for approval.

Pires said: “One development in the Timor Sea, the Bayu Undan project, has benefited the people of Australia through its infrastructure in Darwin. It is only fair that this time East Timor will benefit from the development of infrastructure from the Greater sunrise (project) with an LNG plant in East Timor.

Maybe future generations could reconcile an alternative agreement (for Sunrise), but our commitment to this project makes it very difficult to reconcile any other agreement than a development, pipeline and LNG plant based in East Timor.”

The government had carried out its own technical and commercial studies on the viability of a pipeline across the Timor trough and found the pipeline and LNG plant are technically feasible, commercially viable and legally merited, said Pires.

The development of Greater sunrise will either transform our nation on shore or remain a distant dream,” he said.

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