Subject: Australia's Woodside sees Timor Sea gas project as viable although stalled

Wednesday February 16, 04:59 AM

Australia's Woodside sees Timor Sea gas project as viable although stalled

SYDNEY (AFX) - Woodside Petroleum Ltd said the 5 bln aud Greater Sunrise gas project in the Timor Sea is stalled but remains viable.

Woodside chief executive Don Voelte told an analyst briefing a decision to progress depends on the governments of East Timor and Australia reaching agreement. Last year the East Timor Government refused to present to its parliament for ratification an agreement it signed with Australia in 2003 covering legal and fiscal terms for the Greater Sunrise development.

The agreement would have split revenues from Greater Sunrise 80:20 between Australia and East Timor.

But since signing the agreement, East Timor has been demanding a more equitable share of returns from the Greater Sunrise reservoirs, located about 450 km northwest of Darwin but only about 80 km from the East Timor coast.

'The project has stalled but 9 tcf (trln cubic feet) of gas is still there - it is a viable project,' Voelte said.

Woodside has a 33.4 pct stake in Greater Sunrise, ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP - news) has 30 pct and Royal Dutch/Shell 25.56 pct, with the balance held by Osaka Gas.

The Royal Dutch/Shell group (LSE: SHEL.L - news - msgs) of companies is Woodside's largest shareholding owning about one-third of the company.

Voelte said Woodside will continue to carry Greater Sunrise in its accounts at about 60 mln aud and is not intending currently to writedown this value.

(1 usd = 1.27 aud)


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