Subject: DJ: Australia's Government: E Timor Boundary Talks Productive

Australia's Government: E Timor Boundary Talks Productive

Wednesday September 22, 12:00 AM EDT

CANBERRA -(Dow Jones)- The Australian government said Wednesday that maritime boundary talks with neighbor East Timor will resume next week after "productive" discussions this week between the two nations.

"Australia and East Timor had productive discussions this week on maritime boundaries," said a spokeswoman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

"Talks will resume in the middle of next week," she told Dow Jones Newswires.

The official talks, which will affect the splitting of billions of dollars of oil and gas revenues between Australia and East Timor, are due to recommence in the northern Australian city of Darwin, the spokeswoman added.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd.'s (WPL.AU) Sunrise gas field is caught in the middle of the boundary dispute between the two nations.

Woodside has said that it needs fiscal certainty on Sunrise by the end of the year to decide on a development option and capture a 2010 marketing "window" for liquefied natural gas exports.

The Perth-based energy company has warned that Sunrise will stall unless East Timor ratifies a temporary revenue-sharing deal known as the International Unitization Agreement by year-end.

But East Timor has so far refused to ratify the IUA while it seeks a more favorable seabed boundary that would deliver it greater ownership of Sunrise.

Woodside is operator and 33.4% owner of Sunrise, which is regarded as the biggest prize in the Timor Sea. Its partners are ConocoPhillips (COP) with 30%, Royal Dutch/Shell (RD) with 26.6% and Japan's Osaka Gas Co. (9532.TO) with 10%.

Last month Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta said they hoped to agree on at least a settlement framework by the end of the year.

-By Stephen Bell, Dow Jones Newswires; 61-8-9245-6408; sgbell@bigpond.com

-Edited by Graham Morgan and Melanie Botts

Dow Jones Newswires 09-22-04 0000ET


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