East Timor accuse Woodside of lying
May 26, 2010
East Timor's prime minister said an Australian consortium is trying to steal his country's natural resources from a gas field it's developing in the Timor Sea.
East Timor wants a pipeline to be built from the gas field to Dili, and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao told a gathering on Tuesday that the consortium was ignoring that preference.
The consortium led by Woodside Petroleum Ltd said in April it preferred loading tankers at sea from a world-first floating plant, but a final decision has not been made. Australia has not commented on the plan but has said it would like a pipeline to its northern city of Darwin.
"I don't believe Woodside company because it is a liar," Gusmao said. "They intend to steal our oil and gas in the Timor Sea as they don't want to bring the pipeline to East Timor."
The massive Greater Sunrise gas field in the sea between Australia and East Timor is estimated to hold 240 million barrels of light oil and 154 billion cubic metres of natural gas worth tens of billions of dollars.
East Timor sees the resources as key to lifting its 1.1 million people out of poverty by stimulating the local economy and creating jobs. The nation has no major industry and unemployment is more than 30 per cent.
Gusmao said the consortium had broken its promise to provide training for East Timorese engineers and has only hired 30 local people in its Timor Sea exploration.
"I call on the people of East Timor and the country's leaders, we must be united to defend our wealth in the Timor Sea and the pipeline must come to East Timor, not to Darwin or floating as Woodside's desires," Gusmao said.
Darwin is 450 kilometres from Greater Sunrise. East Timor is closer, but Woodside says a deep trench off the East Timorese coast would make building a pipeline there more difficult.
Woodside and partners Royal Dutch/Shell, Osaka Gas and ConocoPhillips are licensed to develop Greater Sunrise.
© 2010 AP