CANBERRA, May 31 (Reuters) - East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao is prepared to block the multi-billion dollar Timor Sea development of the Greater Sunrise gas field by Australia’s Woodside Petroleum (WPL.AX), a report said on Monday.
Woodside and partners have come under pressure from Dili over their plan to develop a floating liquefied natural gas platform to exploit the fields.
Gusmao was quoted as telling The Age newspaper: “many developing countries fall victim to the corporate resource giants exploiting and plundering their sovereign resources”.
“Timor-Leste (East Timor) will be the country that goes down in history as the nation to put a stop to it,” Gusmao added.
The Greater Sunrise field straddles the waters of East Timor and Australia and hold 5.13 trillion cubic feet of gas as well as 300 million barrels of valuable condensate.
Australia and East Timor reached a deal four years ago to split billions of dollars of field royalties, but East Timor has insisted the gas should be piped and processed onshore to create much-needed jobs, and its own petroleum industry.
The Age reported Woodside last week walked out of Dili’s National Petroleum Authority regulator after it refused to accept the company’s draft plan for a floating platform.
The NPA insisted Woodside submit parallel plans for pipelines to both Darwin and East Timor.
Timorese leaders will later on Monday intensify their campaign for the gas to be piped to East Timor for processing, The Age said, accusing Woodside and its partners of pressing for a floating plant so that it can develop new technology.
Unless there was a deal helping lift Timor’s people from poverty, “then we will wait until many generations have learnt the lesson that humanity comes before commercial realities”, Gusmao was quoted as saying.
“We will be the nation that others follow. Oil giants will be forced to change their indecent behaviour,” he said.
Woodside has said the East Timor government’s opposition to its development plan was premature, arguing that the floating LNG plan was the most compelling and would bring more revenue to the citizens of East Timor than any other option
Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Ed Davies