The Sunrise joint venture will undertake a concept selection study to exploit the Greater Sunrise gas fields located in the Timor Gap between Australia and Timor-Leste, with a “strong focus” on delivering the gas to Timor-Leste.

The Sunrise development, located about 450 kilometres northwest of Darwin, Australia, and 150 kilometres south of Timor-Leste, comprises the Sunrise and Troubadour gas and condensate fields. The fields contain an estimated contingent resource of 5.3 trillion cubic feet of dry gas and 226 million barrels of condensate.

LNG development evaluation

Operator Woodside Energy on Monday said the joint venture will consider all the key issues for delivering the gas, for processing and for liquefied natural gas sales, to Timor-Leste in comparison to delivering the gas to Australia.

The studies will incorporate and update previous work by using the latest technologies and cost estimates while also considering the socio-economic, capacity building, safety, environmental, strategic and security benefits of the various options, Woodside noted.

The aim is to complete the concept select programme expeditiously given the benefits that could flow from developing the Sunrise fields.

Woodside chief executive Meg O’Neill said the development of new technologies and growing demand for safe and reliable LNG meant it was the right time to bring forward the concept select programme.

“It is important we continue to look at ways to develop the Greater Sunrise fields using the latest technologies by evaluating, for example, modular LNG, that did not exist in the past. Against a backdrop of global geopolitical instability and constrained energy supply chains, there is an opportunity for the Sunrise Joint Venture to significantly advance this regionally important project,” she said.

Fiscal and regulatory certainty

In parallel to the concept select programme, the joint venture is progressing negotiations on the new production sharing contract, Petroleum Mining Code and associated agreements with the Timor-Leste and Australian governments, which upon finalisation will provide the fiscal and regulatory certainty required for a development to proceed.

Timor GAP chief executive Antonio de Sousa said he was pleased the company’s efforts have “substantially contributed” towards realising the long-awaited goal of developing Greater Sunrise.

“This path forward is a significant commitment to our stakeholders, to the aspirations of those who made sacrifices to achieve independence for the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and to the future of our people and Timor-Leste.

“It offers a clearer path to prosperity, equality, peace, stability, and sustainability for current and future generations,” he said.

The Sunrise joint venture comprises operator Woodside on 33.44%, Timor-Leste national oil company Timor GAP with 56.56% and Osaka Gas Australia having 10%.

Woodside had long maintained it was not economically viable to build an offshore pipeline across the Timor Trench and a new onshore LNG facility in Timor-Leste.

However, at the company’s investor day on 1 December, O’Neill said the time was now “appropriate to reopen the concept evaluation” on the Timor-Leste development option.

She said at the time that the company’s pipeline feasibility studies of crossing the trench had always shown it was technically possible, but “the challenge has always been the economics”.

Osaka managing director Yo Otsuka said now it is important to assess and compare the development concept from both technical and commercial points of view to select the best option for the success of the Sunrise project.

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