The JPDA lies between Australia and East Timor and contains the 160 square km Bayu-Undan gas fields and the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field. A treaty was signed by the Australian and East Timorese governments in January 2006 regarding revenue sharing from the area.
In February, Santos revealed plans for a major exploration program in the Timor Sea in an effort to increase gas reserves for the expansion of Australia’s LNG export industry. The exploration program is targeted at expanding the Bayu-Undan LNG project.
“We’re fast-tracking exploration with the aim of finding enough gas to add further LNG capacity to the plant at Wickham Point in Darwin.” Santos Managing Director John Ellice-Flint said.
And in May, Mr Ellice-Flint outlined an $100 million commitment to accelerate exploration and appraisal of the company’s expanding operations in the Timor/Bonaparte region.
Meanwhile, in March Methanol Australia announced that it is aiming to raise $1.6 million through a share placement which it will invest towards the Timor Sea LNG project.
The company is also focusing on negotiating a farmout agreement in its exploration permit NT/P68, which lies
25 km to the west of Tassie Shoal and contains the large Seahawk, Epenarra and Heron Plover gas/condensate prospects. Together, these fields have the potential for an aggregate in place gas resource exceeding 7 Tcf.
The Timor Sea LNG Project is proposed to be located on Tassie Shoal in Australian waters of the Timor Sea, next to the Tassie Shoal Methanol Project. The LNG Project received Australian Government environmental approvals in May 2004.
Woodside Petroleum has also recently announced that it is seeking expressions of interest for a study into viable early production system options for the Kuda- Tasi oil prospects, located in the JPDA.
Most recently, Italian based gas and liquids explorer Eni was awarded petroleum exploration rights on five new exploration blocks in the Timor Sea.
The blocks, awarded by East Timor, are located north of the region jointly administered by East Timor and Australia, which has proved to have high potential for significant hydrocarbon discoveries.
Australia opened bidding for 36 new offshore petroleum exploration areas in May, two of which are off the Ashmore and Cartier Islands in the Timor Sea.
The release coincides with the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s (APPEA) report that exploration was necessary to stem a decline in oil reserves. APPEA stated that Australia needed to add 120 MMbbl of crude oil reserves every year to maintain the nation’s rate of production.
With much exploration still to be undertaken in the Timor Sea and potential developments now delivered a stable framework under the JPDA, the Timor Sea is set to finally become the resource that many have long anticipated it to be.