Subject: ABC: E Timor urged to reconsider Timor Sea tax regime

Also: E Timor pleased over ALP sea boundary comments; First barrel of crude to be pumped in November 2005 - PM Alkatiri

Tuesday, June 8, 2004. 7:54am (AEST)
E Timor urged to reconsider Timor Sea tax regime

The peak body for Australian oil and gas producers says Australia is providing a more favourable tax regime than East Timor in the Timor Sea developments.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association spokesman Barry Jones says the controversy over the maritime borders is a government issue.

But he says East Timor should reconsider its tax arrangements which are considerably higher than Australia.

Mr Jones says companies are not concerned about who they pay taxes to, as long as the companies remain competitive.

"If we pay more tax as a result in a change of a border, that can threaten the viability of the project," he said.

"You know tax is one of the largest operating costs of the industry so all the parties to this international negotiation need to be very careful that they don't end up with a nice set of borders that suit everyone but no project."

-- ABC

Last Update: Tuesday, June 8, 2004. 9:52am (AEST)

E Timor pleased over ALP sea boundary comments

East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri says the Federal Labor Party has made some very positive statements on maritime boundaries and the division of revenue from the Sunrise Gas Field.

Dr Alkatiri addressed an oil and gas conference in Darwin yesterday and reiterated that his Government will not ratify an agreement to develop the resource until the Australian Government provides assurances on sea boundaries.

He wants the Howard Government to agree to a timetable for negotiations and arbitration if the issue is not resolved during that period.

Mr Alkatiri would not comment on whether the negotiations would be more successful under a Labor Government.

"It's not my duty to pre-judge but I think we have a lot of friends within the Labor Party," he said.

"But Labor is ultimately making statements, very positive statements, on this issue."

Yesterday, Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin told the conference the Federal Government should negotiate a one-off revenue split with East Timor to overcome the impasse on maritime boundaries.


East Timor: First barrel of crude to be pumped in November 2005 - PM Alkatiri

Dili, June 8 (Lusa) - The first barrel of East Timorese crude oil will be pumped on Nov. 28, 2005, the 30th anniversary of the country's unilateral declaration of independence, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said Tuesday.

The announcement was made at a news conference where Alkatiri said that the China Petroleum company had completed geological tests at various onshore and offshore sites and would begin seismological tests shortly.

Data obtained by Lusa in Dili indicated that the richest potential areas are located in the northwestern coastal enclave of Oecussi and along the south coast between Cova Lima and Viqueque.

Alkatiri's comments came on his return home from attending the Southeast Asia-Australia Offshore Conference (SEAAOC) in Darwin, Australia.

At SEAAOC Monday, he said initial studies indicated East Timor possessed likely "hydrocarbon deposits in several onshore and offshore areas".

The government, Alkatiri said, had decided to concede rights to seismological data as a "first step" towards awarding the first operational license in the fourth quarter of 2005.

At his Dili news conference, the prime minister also vehemently repeated denials that he had received a USD 2.5 million bribe to ConocoPhillips, as alleged in a suit filed March 1 by a second US oil company, Oceanic Exploration, before a court in Washington.



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