Melbourne, Australia – Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and China could all be interested in investing in the Greater Sunrise gas project in the waters between Timor Leste and Australia, President Jose Ramos-Horta said on Wednesday.
Ramos-Horta named them as potential investors as the country is making a push to break a stalemate with Australia and Sunrise operator Woodside Energy Group over how to develop the gas fields – either by piping the gas to Timor Leste or to Darwin in northern Australia.
"So Indonesia is a potential investor in Greater Sunrise. Why not? South Korea is one of the great potential investors," Ramos-Horta said in a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra.
Investors from Japan and China could also be interested, he said.
The two fields that make up Greater Sunrise were discovered in 1974 and hold an estimated 5.1 trillion cubic feet of gas and 226 million barrels of condensate, a type of light crude oil typically found with gas.
Development was first stalled by a bitter maritime boundary dispute that was resolved in 2018, and then by disagreement over whether to pipe the gas to a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Timor Leste or to an existing LNG hub in Darwin, which Woodside favours.
Ramos-Horta urged Australia to back a plan to pipe the gas to Timor Leste, where he said the project could provide $100 billion in revenue and development benefits to the country.
The project is key to Timor's future as its main source of revenue, the Bayu Undan oil and gas field, will stop producing later this year, leaving the country almost wholly dependent on its petroleum fund which currently holds $18 billion.
Ramos-Horta said he was confident Greater Sunrise would be developed, possibly in tandem with the Abadi gas field off Indonesia.
"I'm also confident that in the end we will reach agreement with Woodside and the other joint venture members. I'm optimistic about that," he said.
He echoed comments by state-owned petroleum company Timor Gap, the majority stakeholder in Sunrise, that studies show there are no economic or technical obstacles to piping gas to Timor Leste, despite the challenge of traversing a deep ocean trench.