Subject: RA: East Timor ready to complete energy deal with Australia

Also: Delay jeopardises East Timor gas

East Timor ready to complete energy deal with Australia

Radio Australia News 24/10/2002 12:14:57

East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta says his country is ready to ratify the Timor Sea Treaty and the Australian Government will owe his people an explanation if it decides to delay proceedings.

The Northern Territory Government is concerned Australia's push to resolve unitisation issues, before it will ratify the Treaty, may threaten the future of the Bayu Undan gas field.

Bringing gas into Darwin from the Bayu Undan field is dependent on the Treaty being ratified soon.

Mr Ramos Horta says recent signals from the Australian Government are disturbing.

"If now Australia has a change of heart, a changing in its mind, ah then it is Australia that will have to clarify to us, to the Timorese people, why now it is dragging its feet."

Delay jeopardises East Timor gas

Australian Financial Review Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific editor 23/10/2002

An Australian hold-up over finalising the $6.6 billion Greater Sunrise gas field is placing the whole project in jeopardy, East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said yesterday.

He told the CPA Australia congress in Melbourne that Australia was insisting that the ratification of the new Timor Gap Treaty await agreement on unitisation the tax regime that determines the split of excise and royalties between the two countries within whose waters the field lies.

The complexity of the unitisation issue would, he said, cause the treaty, provisionally negotiated in 1999, to be postponed until it was returned to parliament in Canberra in March at the earliest.

``This puts the entire project in jeopardy," he said. ``And it is our route out of poverty and dependency. ``Japanese buyers are already lined up, and they may wish to renegotiate. The price would come down in view of the new gas agreement between Australia and China.

``It would be much lower than the price agreed between Osaka Gas and Phillips Petroleum" [a member of the Greater Sunrise joint venture, with Shell and Woodside].

``We'll see what we can do to salvage the situation before the end of the year," Mr Ramos-Horta said. He stressed that ``we are very happy with the relationship we have developed with Phillips".

He said his government's preference was to have the treaty ratified so that sales agreements could be concluded and the project progress in other areas, while the major sticking point the unitisation was continuing to be negotiated.

Mr Ramos-Horta said: ``Australia wants to impose a fait accompli on its claims on the maritime boundary negotiated in 1972, over which East Timor had no say.

``Australia wants us to be content with continuing to receive assistance, and to make us dependent.

``It wants to impose its own views on the jurisdiction, instead of saying let's find a win-win compromise.

``Yet we are the poorest country in Asia, one of the poorest in the world."

He said that Australian people had been ``tremendously generous to the East Timorese." ``Maybe the government itself will be inspired by them." But he said that ``with billions of dollars at stake, even Mother Theresa would have been less generous in settling an agreement."

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