Greater Sunrise

Timor Sea Oil and Gas Fields

Click on map to enlarge


  • The Sunrise project is based on the Greater Sunrise gas/condensate fields (including the Sunrise, Loxton Shoals, Sunset, Sunset West and Troubadour wells). These fields lie in the Bonaparte Basin, about 400km northwest of Darwin.


  • The resources are contained in four titles. Since August 3, 2001, the participants are:
NT/RL2 NT/P55 ZOCA 95-19 ZOCA 96-20
Woodside Energy Limited56.67%26.67%24.33% 23.33%
Shell Development (Australia) Pty Ltd25.00%33.33%22.33%33.33%
Phillips STL Pty Ltd8.33%30%33.33%33.33%
Osaka Gas Australia Pty Ltd10.00%10.00%10.00%10.00%
  • On a unit basis, the interests are:
Woodside Energy Limited (operator)33.44%
Phillips STL Pty Ltd30%

Shell Development

(Australia) Pty LTD

Osaka Gas Australia Pty LTD10%


  • 1974 - The Sunrise and Troubadour fields were both discovered  but appraisal of the resources was delayed until the Loxton Shoals-1 well was drilled in August 1995. Additional wells drilled since then demonstrated that both fields extend into the Joint Petroleum Development Area.
  • May 1997 - The project was originally conceived by The Northern Australia Gas Venture (NAGV) formed as a joint venture between Woodside and Shell, to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant and a domestic gas supply for Darwin and Australia. This project was based on gas from the Greater Sunrise and Evans Shoal fields.
  • March 1999 - Shell and Woodside announced on 9th March 1999 that the LNG plant Feasibility Study concluded the LNG project as technically feasible, but dependent on the capture of markets and on project economics.
  • 1999 - During the second half of 1999, a joint study of the markets and infrastructure needed to bring Timor Sea gas to the Northern Territory and Queensland was undertaken. (View full report: Opportunities for Timor Sea Gas in Northern Territory & Queensland"

Project Status

  • Detailed assessment of the gas reserves and field development options are in progress using data gathered in a A$30 million 3D seismic survey of the gas fields. This is the largest 3D seismic survey ever undertaken in Australian waters.
  • Proved and probable recoverable resources are currently estimated at around 8.4 trillion cubic feet (238 billion cubic metres) of gas and 320 million barrels of condensate. (Woodside Annual Results presentation Feb 2002)
  • On 30 November 2000, Woodside and Phillips announced that they had reached in-principle agreement to pursue cooperative development of their Timor Sea gas resources in the Sunrise and Bayu-Undan projects. 
  • The Cooperative Agreement Principles were signed by Phillips, Woodside and Shell in February 2001.
  • The concept was designed to combine the early gas delivery potential of the Bayu-Undan development with the large reserve base of the Greater Sunrise fields and to optimise investment in infrastructure. This concept involved plans of bringing the gas from the Sunrise and Bayu Undan fields onshore in a joint sub-sea pipeline about mid 2006.
  • The Greater Sunrise project aim was to sell gas to existing energy users and new developments in the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales, and depending on market demand also in Queensland, for power generation, mineral processing and gas-based manufacturing.
  • See the diagram below illustrating the proposed Sunrise offshore facility to supply onshore LNG.

Proposed Sunrise Offshore Development Concept
Reproduced courtesy of Woodside

Click on diagram to enlarge

  • In August 2001, Shell announced a proposal for FLNG (Floating LNG) on Sunrise as an alternative to onshore LNG. See the diagram below illustrating Shell's FLNG proposal.
  • In February 2002, Woodside announced that Shell's FLNG proposal is their preferred development option, however discussions between the joint venture parties are continuing.

Shell's Proposed Sunrise FLNG Concept
Reproduced courtesy of Woodside

Click on diagram to enlarge

Gas and Gas-Based Manufacturing Customers

  • 6 March 2000 - Woodside, Shell and Methanex Corporation, the world’s largest producer and marketer of methanol, announced that a letter of intent was signed for supply of approximately 110 petajoules of natural gas per year for a proposed large-scale synthesis gas (syngas) generation and methanol manufacturing facility near Darwin.
  • November 2001 - Methanex announced that as it was unable to sign a gas sales  and purchase agreement with Shell by October 31, 2001, it would close the Darwin office. 
  • 9 March 2001 - Phillips announced that it had entered into a Letter of Intent (LOI) with El Paso Corporation which could underpin the development of a A$3 billion, LNG plant near Darwin. The LNG project would see the delivery of 4.8 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of LNG to growing gas markets in Southern California in the United States and Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. However, this LOI is now non-exclusive with El Paso seeking alternative sources for LNG.
  • Sales negotiations have been suspended with Nabalco, operator of the alumina refinery at Gove, the Northern Territory Power and Water Authority and other customers.
  • Total existing gas resources will sustain supply for over 30 years, with further supply expected from other known resources and potential new discoveries.
  • Total investment in all segments of the domestic gas project, including: gas production, the sub-sea trunkline, the syngas plant and other gas consuming facilities, could exceed US$4 billion.
  • The Sunrise Gas Project has the potential to be a significant source of income for East Timor through taxation revenue from the Joint Petroleum Development Area.

Current at March 4, 2002

Director of Petroleum Development

Office of Territory Development
GPO Box 4396
Ph: 61 8 8999 5425
Fax: 61 8 8999 5191