Subject: Woodside Still Working With East Timor to Resolve Gas Dispute

Woodside Still Working With East Timor to Resolve Gas Dispute

May 21, 2010, 5:07 AM EDT

By James Paton

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Don Voelte said he's still seeking to resolve a dispute with East Timor over how to develop the Sunrise project after meeting with the country's president.

"There is disappointment that has to be dissipated," Voelte said. "The people I have found are very professional, very emotional over the issues. We plan to work with them and get something that's the best answer for both countries."

While East Timor has rejected a plan by Woodside and its partners to use floating liquefied natural gas technology at the Sunrise venture, Voelte said in Sydney today he believes that it's the best commercial option and would deliver the most revenue to both countries. East Timor has said it remains opposed to any proposal that doesn't include a plant on its soil.

Voelte said he met for more than two hours earlier this month with East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta, without seeing Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. "We've struggled a bit with the Prime Minister's office," he told reporters after an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia lunch.

Piping the gas to an LNG facility in East Timor would be an "expensive" option, he said. Woodside, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, ConocoPhillips and Osaka Gas Co. aim to use a floating LNG platform to produce 4 million metric tons of the fuel a year from the field which lies between Australia and East Timor.

The development plan for the Sunrise project was "officially lodged" with an East Timorese regulator, Voelte said, even though officials tossed the documents back into a car as the Woodside delegation left a meeting in the capital Dili.

The two countries completed a treaty in 2007 for the administration of the Timor Sea field, which straddles a boundary between Australian waters and an area the nations manage jointly. They agreed to share royalties.

Woodside owns 33 percent and is the operator, ConocoPhillips has a 30 percent stake, Shell has about 27 percent, and Osaka Gas Co. 10 percent.

--Editors: John Viljoen, Ryan Woo.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Paton in Sydney

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amit Prakash at

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