Subject: RT: East Timor PM says gas pact to be approved Feb. 19

East Timor PM says gas pact to be approved Feb. 19

Mon Feb 12, 2007 4:02pm ET

by Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - East Timor's parliament is due to ratify a deal with Australia next week that will pave the way for the development of the Timor Sea's biggest gas resource, Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said on Monday.

Oil and gas producers are waiting for the deal to be ratified before committing to develop the Greater Sunrise area, estimated to hold 8 trillion cubic feet (226.5 billion cu metres) of gas and up to 300 million barrels of condensate.

"I'm confident the parliament will ratify them," Ramos-Horta said of the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea and the International Unitization Agreement, adding that they are due to be voted on by Dili on Feb. 19.

Australia has been putting off its own ratification of the deals until East Timor acted first.

Greater Sunrise operator Woodside Petroleum Ltd froze the $5 billion project in 2004 while waiting for Canberra and Dili to iron out their differences.

Another sticking point has been whether to build a liquefied natural gas processing plant for Greater Sunrise in East Timor with a pipeline to feed it the field's production, or to send it to a plant being built in northern Australia.

During a visit to the United Nations to ask for a 12-month extension to a U.N. mission in East Timor, Ramos-Horta said a petroleum fund created two years ago to ensure transparency in managing the country's resource income had already accumulated $1 billion.

He said that once the Greater Sunrise agreements were ratified by both Dili and Canberra, he expected the Woodside-led venture "would immediately begin further investments that will bring additional significant revenues to Timor-Leste within a few years."

About 20 percent of Greater Sunrise lies in a Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) between Australia and East Timor. Under the JPDA 90 percent of royalty revenue go to East Timor and 10 percent to Australia.

The new agreement would share revenue from the Greater Sunrise field that lies outside the JPDA 50-50 between the two countries, potentially delivering up to $14.5 billion to impoverished East Timor over 20 years.

In addition to Woodside, Greater Sunrise's stakeholders include ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch/Shell, and Japan's Osaka Gas Co. Ltd. Woodside is 34 percent-owned by Shell.

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