Subject: ABC: Timor talks sought as Sunrise project shelved

Also: Australia's Woodside Shelving Greater Sunrise Gas Project

Friday January 14, 08:07 PM

Timor talks sought as Sunrise project shelved

The Federal Government has invited East Timor to further talks to resolve a deadlock over maritime boundaries.

The offer coincides with Woodside Petroleum announcing it will halt development of a $5 billion gas project.

Woodside has confirmed it will not commit any more money to the Greater Sunrise Gas Project, 450 kilometres north-west of Darwin.

Late last year the company warned work would stop if the governments did not reach an agreement on maritime boundaries by Christmas.

That deadline passed without an agreement.

A company spokesman says Woodside has already spent $200 million.

The spokesman says market demand will determine whether or not the project will restart, if the governments do an reach agreement.

The Federal Government is proposing that the talks be held within the next three months.


Friday January 14, 09:23 PM Asia Pulse

Australia's Woodside Shelving Greater Sunrise Gas Project

PERTH, Jan 14 Asia Pulse - Woodside Petroleum Ltd (ASX:WPL) has followed through on its warning that the A$5 billion (US$3.8 billion) Greater Sunrise gas project would be shelved if the stand-off between the East Timorese and Australian governments continued.

Staff have been progressively transferred to other projects and the company is not committing any more money to Greater Sunrise, a spokesman said.

Woodside warned investors in November the project would stall if it did not have legal and fiscal certainty by the end of last year.

"That time has come and gone and we've started to reassign people to different projects," the spokesman said.

The project is being held up by a maritime boundary and royalty dispute between Australia and East Timor.

A deal was struck between the nations last year and passed through the Australian Parliament that split revenues from Greater Sunrise 80:20.

But East Timor has said it would not ratify it until Australia showed goodwill and good faith in negotiating the permanent maritime boundary.

The Greater Sunrise field, estimated to contain 7.8 trillion cubic feet of gas, is located in the Timor Sea 450 kilometres from Darwin but only about 80 kilometres from East Timor.

If the agreement is not signed and the project's development plan abandoned it could be years before the market presented opportunities as suppliers currently enjoy, Woodside said last year.

The spokesman said today the speed at which the project could be brought back on would depend on the patience of prospective customers.

"It's a matter of how quickly the governments can resolve the issue as to how quickly we might be able to kick start it," he said.

"The government has been well aware of our position since before November, and then of course in November when we told the investment market."

Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane's office said it had not received any official notification.

Woodside operates the Greater Sunrise project on behalf of joint venture partners Royal Dutch/Shell, ConocoPhillips and Osaka Gas.


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