Dow Jones Newswires, 2nd February , 2005.
Australia, Timor Set To Resume Talks In March
CANBERRA -(Dow Jones)- East Timor is poised to formally accept Australia's
invitation to resume negotiations on a permanent maritime boundary.
Talks are expected to be held in Canberra next month, forming part of a
previously agreed timetable of six-monthly meetings in a bid to resolve
ownership of vast oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, a person familiar
with the situation told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.
Discussions between Canberra and Dili broke down in October, prompting
Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL.AU) to shelve its US$5 billion Sunrise
liquefied natural gas project after the parties failed to meet an
Woodside had warned it needed fiscal certainty on the project by the end of
2004 to capture a 2010 marketing "window" for LNG exports.
The company recently restated it won't be spending any more money to
advance Sunrise and has reassigned staff to other projects.
Woodside owns 33.4% of Sunrise, regarded as the richest prize in the Timor
Sea. Its partners are ConocoPhillips (COP) with 30%, Royal Dutch/Shell
Group ( RD) with 26.6% and Japan's Osaka Gas Co. (9532.TO) with 10%.
East Timor is fighting for a maritime boundary in the middle of the 600
kilometers of sea separating the two countries.
Australia, instead, argues the boundary should be the edge of the
continental shelf, which in some places is just 80 kilometers from East
Timor's coastline. That border puts the bulk of natural resources in the
Timor Sea under Australia's control.
-By Veronica Brooks, Dow Jones Newswires.