GAS

Sunrise could be rescheduled

WOODSIDE has welcomed the resolution of the seabed boundaries dispute between Australia and East Timor, but the Greater Sunrise project may no longer a priority for the company which is now flagging the imminent development of a Browse Basin hub.

Sunrise could be rescheduled

Woodside has said the Browse Basin could form Australia's next liquefied natural gas hub.

While equities vary over four separate permits, Woodside has an aggregate of about 50% interest in the Browse compared with 16.66% in the North West Shelf.

So while the Browse would not be as large as the North West Shelf it could be twice as important to Woodside as the older project, Woodside has said. More than 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 300 million barrels of condensate could be recovered from Browse, according to Woodside.

With Browse Basin first production not likely until 2011-14, development at Greater Sunrise might not start until the middle of the next decade if Browse is given priority.

Woodside managing director Don Voelte has said he wants development of a Browse hub to be well underway before he leaves the company in four years.

The Sunrise project lies in the area where Australia and East Timor have been disputing sovereignty.

On Friday the two nations reached agreement in the dispute over sea boundaries and the division of oil and gas revenues from the Timor Sea.

Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said under the agreement, East Timor would receive up to $5 billion on top of the 90% share of revenue it currently gets from the joint development area in the Timor Sea.

In return, Timor-Leste has agreed to postpone final resolution of the maritime boundary issue, Downer said.

"The key elements have been incorporated into a draft text," he said.

"There are still some minor issues to be agreed but all the major issues have been agreed."

Mr Downer said the deal would be worth between $2 billion and $5 billion for East Timor, depending on oil and gas prices in the future.

"We're talking about them getting several billion dollars of additional revenue over and above what they would have otherwise got just from the 90% revenue from the joint development area."

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