Subject: Northern Territory awaits dawn of Sunrise

Northern Territory News (Australia)

July 18, 2007 Wednesday

Territory awaits dawn of Sunrise


NEARLY 10 times the amount of gas Australia uses each year lies beneath the Timor Sea in the Greater Sunrise project.

The NT Government holds regular talks with Woodside Energy about exploiting the gas field.

But Chief Minister Clare Martin's spokesman Richard O'Leary would not reveal whether the Government had asked for access to Greater Sunrise gas.

Ms Martin said the Government encouraged potential gas suppliers to provide a portion of their gas for ''downstream'' gas-related industries.

Shadow treasurer Terry Mills said the Territory needed Greater Sunrise gas.

''The Government should be actively engaged in negotiations,'' he said.

The Woodside Energy project team is now tossing up whether to pipe the Greater Sunrise gas to Darwin or to Timor Leste for processing.

It is also considering processing the LNG onsite at the gas fields.

Woodside said it would not speculate on a production timeline until issues such as the marketing of the gas were resolved.

This would involve signing agreements on price and sales quantity before a final investment decision on the project can be taken, Woodside Energy spokeswoman Hannah Fitzhardinge told BusinessWeek.

Energy producers often sell their entire resource before the project is started.

Darwin's Wickham Point LNG plant has sold its gas for the next 17 years to Japanese buyers Tokyo Gas and Tokyo Electric.

Guaranteed access to large reliable gas reserves would enable a $3 billion Dow Chemicals plant to be built in Darwin.

Alcan Gove is also looking to source gas after intended supplier Oil Search shelved its Papua New Guinea gas pipeline project.

In February this year, Woodside Petroleum mobilised a team to look at developing the gas reserve, estimated to have about 7.68 trillion cubic feet of gas, after treaties between East Timor and Australia came into force in February, splitting future royalties from the Greater Sunrise field 50-50.

Woodside Petroleum said the development of the Greater Sunrise gas fields was now also subject to the finalisation of a development plan and a fiscal stability agreement being signed with the Timor Leste Government.

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