Office of the Prime Minister


Media Release:  Talks with Australia on Sunrise Unitisation begin


Friday 19 July 2002


Yesterday, the first round of negotiations between the Governments of East Timor and Australia on an International Unitisation Agreement for the Greater Sunrise gas field in the Timor Sea concluded in Dili.


“This first round of talks was very productive, and took place in a very positive atmosphere” said Prime Minister of East Timor Mari Alkatiri.  “We now have a clear timetable for future talks, and are in a good position to finish the Sunrise Unitisation Agreement by the end of the year”.


The Greater Sunrise gas field, which is estimated to contain 8.35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, lies partly inside the area of the Timor Sea Treaty.   The operator of Sunrise is Australian company Woodside Energy, in partnership with Shell, Phillips Petroleum, and Osaka Gas.


An International Unitisation Agreement will provide for efficient taxation, regulation and administration of the gas field, giving the Sunrise partners a solid basis for investment.  In a Memorandum of Understanding signed on 20 May, East Timor and Australia agreed to conclude the Agreement by 31 December 2002, in time for Woodside’s investment deadlines.  The Agreement will not prejudice the future delimitation of maritime boundaries between East Timor and Australia.


The Timor Sea Treaty  was signed by Prime Minister Alkatiri and Prime Minister of Australia John Howard on 20 May 2002.  Once ratified, the Treaty will provide for revenues from the Treaty area to be shared between the two countries, with 90% of revenues flowing to East Timor, including revenues from the Bayu-Undan field, which is expected to go into production in 2004.