Subject: East Timor fighting Darwin gas plant

NT News

East Timor fighting Darwin gas plant

DARWIN may miss out on another gas plant, a leading analyst says.

John Hirjee of Deutsche Bank in Melbourne says one of the four partners in the Sunrise field off the Territory coast may opt for a floating production platform in the Timor Sea, rather than an LNG complex alongside Darwin Harbour.

Woodside was last week reported to have chosen the Darwin option. But Mr Hirjee says in a report that the Australian energy company may go for the floating platform option because of opposition from East Timor.

Sunrise, 450km northwest of Darwin, is being developed by Woodside, Shell, ConocoPhillips and Osaka Gas. It lies partly in the Joint Petroleum Development Area, which means royalties from gas exploitation would be shared between Australia and East Timor.

The Dili government wanted the gas to be piped to a LNG plant in East Timor.

But the joint venture partners ruled that out because of political instability, the lack of skilled workers and the deep undersea trench that lies between the country and Sunrise.

East Timor is now lobbying for its second preferred option - processing the gas on a floating platform.

Australian unions oppose this choice because the platform would be manufactured overseas and be manned by mainly foreign workers.

Darwin would miss out on a $2 billion gas plant, which would employ more than 1000 workers during construction and up to 300 during operation.

The joint venture partners are expected to announce their decision by the end of this year.

ConocoPhillips is believed to have chosen the Territory option.

Shell is thought to want a floating platform. It is not known how Osaka Gaswill vote.



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