Subject: Gas deal opens door for Sunrise

Gas deal opens door for Sunrise By KAREN MICHELMORE 17Jun03

The decision to move ahead with a multibillion-dollar gas development in north Australia had positive implications for the development of the huge Sunrise gas field, Woodside Petroleum said yesterday.

Woodside -- the operator of the Sunrise venture -- said the project's partners were still to decide whether they would develop a floating liquefied natural gas plant to process the gas, or bring it onshore.

But they remained committed to the project, and were implementing a marketing strategy to woo potential gas customers in Asia and North America.

"For Woodside, as shareholders ... it is totally unacceptable for a resource like Sunrise to remain undeveloped," Woodside gas business unit director David Maxwell said.

International oil giant ConocoPhillips on Sunday received the final green light to start work on a pipeline from its Bayu-Undan gas field, 500km northwest of Darwin in the Timor Sea, to a new $1.5 billion Darwin LNG facility.

ConocoPhillips will supply Japanese customers with LNG for 17 years from 2006.

Mr Maxwell said the move potentially opened up doors for developments like Sunrise.

"I think it does a number of things, firstly it puts focus on Darwin and the NT as an LNG hub which is an enabler for others in the gas industry," Mr Maxwell told reporters at the South-East Asia Australia Offshore Conference.

"In that sense it is a positive.

"The second thing is it gives the people of East Timor and the NT some experience in large gas projects, that's creating a resource, that's creating a human capability which is going to be very valuable on any other gas projects.

"Third it starts to create some infrastructure, which albeit small, perhaps (can) assist others. Every little bit helps."

Mr Maxwell said it was important the construction of the Darwin LNG plant and pipeline went smoothly.

"The reputation for this area for building subsequent LNG projects will spring from how well this project is executed," he said.

Woodside and its partners had not yet made a decision on whether they would develop a floating LNG plant or pipe gas onshore, he said.

"While an economic case for onshore LNG is yet to be identified, we have not given up on that possibility, the studies are continuing," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Maxwell said it was important both the East Timor and Australian governments ratified the international unitisation agreement governing the field area as soon as possible.

This report appears on

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