Timor-Leste petro chief surprises with joint-use pipeline plan for Sunrise 

TIMOR-Leste is proposing the Timor Trough-crossing pipeline to send gas from the multi-Tcf, Woodside Energy Group-operated gas field Greater Sunrise to its own shores be opened up to transport other parties’ gas. 
Timor-Leste petro chief surprises with joint-use pipeline plan for Sunrise  Timor-Leste petro chief surprises with joint-use pipeline plan for Sunrise  Timor-Leste petro chief surprises with joint-use pipeline plan for Sunrise  Timor-Leste petro chief surprises with joint-use pipeline plan for Sunrise  Timor-Leste petro chief surprises with joint-use pipeline plan for Sunrise 

Helen Clark


At yesterday's AOG conference Autoridade Nacional do Petróleo e Minerais chief Florentino Soares Ferreira floated "the possibility of opening up for this pipeline, tapping into other fields like Chuditch.. And if Eni discovers Block B, then we can always tap into Block B as well". 
The nation is still also trying to entice E&P players to the offshore and onshore blocks it first offered at its 2019 licensing round. While the pandemic threw an entire toolbox worth of spanners into the mix, sources also confided to Energy News scepticism around fiscal conditions and the quality of the data room.
Italy's Eni, which holds the shut-in Kitan field, took Block B from the 2019 round. Earlier that same year it drilled an unsuccessful, dual-Jurrassic and Triassic target well. 
Chuditch is operated by Sunda Gas, which estimates a 5 trillion cubic foot resource (2C) and has proposed a floating LNG development concept. 
This is seemingly news to Woodside, whose spokesperson simply pointed Energy News to prior statements on plans, with no reference to infrastructure sharing, which could change the scope of any pipe. 
Woodside, minority field partner Osaka Gas and Timor Gap launched a new concept study at the beginning of February.
Woodside has always strongly been in favour of sending gas to Darwin rather than a greenfield LNG build near Suai in the south. Timor-Leste sees a new plant as a nation-building venture and holds 56% of Sunrise after acquiring Shell and ConocoPhillips' stakes late last decade. 
 In 2020 during the oil price crash it wrote the field's value down to zero but plans revived quietly the following year. A PSC between the company, the Australian government and Timor-Leste government is needed, which is time consuming given Canberra uses an alternate fiscal regime. 
"The Sunrise Joint Venture will consider all of the key issues for delivering the gas, for processing and LNG sales, to Timor-Leste compared to delivering the gas to Australia," they said last month. 
"The studies will incorporate and update previous work by utilising the latest technologies and cost estimates while also considering the socio-economic, capacity building, safety, environmental, strategic and security benefits of the various options.
"The studies will include evaluation of which option provides the most meaningful benefit for the people of Timor-Leste. The SJV is aiming to complete the concept select program expeditiously given the benefits that could flow from developing the Sunrise fields." 
Woodside CEO Meg O'Neill has kept her cards close to her chest but did tell analysts this year modular LNG, which is smaller, cheaper and easier to build and later scale, could be one option. It is common to US Gulf projects. 
Soares-Ferreira suggested more gas resources would add to the planned industry hub on the south coast, something the small nation has long seen as absolutely crucial for wider economic development. 
How gas would be developed -- a second LNG plant, tolling through the Sunrise plant or adding LNG modules -- was not addressed. 
"We believe that having a joint infrastructure.. will make the project more or less economically viable and we're looking forward to develop these gas products considering the energy demands in Southeast Asia," he said. 
Energy News remembers this is not the first time shared pipelines came as news to Woodside.
In 2018 then-Chevron Australia chief Nigel Hearne debuted his notion of the Trans-Carnarvon Trunkline at his APPEA conference opening keynote speech. 
The collaborative project could have linked remote resources like Scarborough, Thebe and Exmouth and "would enable gas from offshore fields to flow to where it is needed, and when it is needed via an onshore interconnector across the Burrup Peninsula," Hearne said. 
"Think of it as replicating the onshore success of the Dampier-to-Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline infrastructure, by doubling it offshore and creating a system that is potentially much bigger than the sum of its two parts," he said. 
It was the first that then-Woodside CEO Peter Coleman had heard of the concept, though he wryly noted in his following speech Chevron had in fact used Woodside's graphics. 
Quizzed at both the same plenary and a later press conference Coleman said that the company was already developing a pipeline as part of its Scarborough development "we'll be asking them [Chevron] if they wish to contribute to the size… my expectation is they won't be ready to go," he said. 
"The tax system and financial system don't encourage that," Coleman said, while noting that both the US and North Sea had collaborative pipeline networks, and such a thing in Australia would keep it competitive.
 "Woodside's engineers are frantically working on that pipe and it's going to take a lot of convincing to add diameter to it," he said. 
Sunrise lies in the Joint Petroleum Development Area which, under the rules of the 2019 treaty that governs it, allows for such shared infrastructure, Soares-Ferreira explained to Energy News on the sidelines of the event.