* E.Timor: early development of Sunrise critical for nation
* E.Timor concerned about untested FLNG technology
* Australia: no preference location for Sunrise LNG plant (Adds details, comments from press conference, background)
CANBERRA, June 23 (Reuters) - East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta said on Wednesday he was confident key stakeholders in the disputed Sunrise liquefied natural gas (LNG) project could reach an agreement on how to develop the massive gas field.
East Timor is locked in a dispute with Australia’s Woodside Petroleum (WPL.AX) and partners over developing the Greater Sunrise gas field, which straddles Australian and East Timorese waters.
East Timor wants the gas brought to its shores where it would be liquefied and then exported by ship, while project partners prefer to develop the gas offshore by building a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plant, which analysts have estimated would cost between $10-$11 billion.
“Our government remains open to dialogue with the consortium. The very first step that has to happen is for a very frank, transparent discussion about all the options,” Ramos-Horta told reporters in Canberra.
“We view the importance of early development of Greater Sunrise.”
Ramos-Horta said his country was concerned about the untested floating platform option and wanted further evidence on Woodside’s assertion that it would cost $19 billion to build a 184 km (114 miles) underground subsea pipeline to transport the gas back to East Timor for processing.
“I don’t support a pipeline coming to Timor-Leste out of patriotic duty -- I want to see what are the real benefits to Timor-Leste against the costs of it,” he said referring to the official name of East Timor.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said his government has no preference on how to develop the gas resources, adding that the issue was one for East Timor to resolve with the developers.
East Timor’s government said on Tuesday it was due to meet key stakeholders in the Sunrise project on Aug 5-6, with a further meeting scheduled later in 2010 where it will present its $3.8 billion development proposal to build the LNG processing plant on the tiny nation’s southern coast. [ID:nSGE65L041]
East Timor’s current petroleum revenue comes solely from the ConocoPhilips (COP.N)-operated Bayu-Undan gas and liquids project, whereby LNG is processed on a plant in Australia’s northern city of Darwin.
Woodside is the operator of the Sunrise field and has a 33.4 percent stake in the project. Other participants in the venture are Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), U.S. energy major ConocoPhillips and Japan’s Osaka Gas (9532.T). (Reporting by James Grubel; writing by Fayen Wong; Editing by Ed Davies)