Asia

Timor’s $100bn demand to Australia


Timor-Leste’s President has issued a bullish request to the world: don’t lecture me on climate unless you’re prepared to put your money where your mouth is.

José Ramos-Horta told the National Press Club he was willing to dump long-held desires to develop the Greater Sunrise gas field and a pipeline to his nation if the world “gives us $100bn”.

“I have to be very frank – the Americans, the US, the Europeans, and, of course, then Japan and, of course, China, and India,” he started, in what was a meandering speech without notes or prepared remarks.

“But first, the Europeans, you were the ones who polluted the whole world with coal, with oil and everything that you can imagine. And we, unfortunately, discover oil and gas only now.

“The Europeans, Australia, the US, give us $100 billion and will give up on the Greater Sunrise development. As simple as that. Because the revenues from Greater Sunrise is estimated at about $50 billion.

“Other than that, please don’t lecture me.”

The project, which is located in the maritime border between Australia and Timor-Leste, has been a source of contention, with negotiations reaching an impasse.

It’s estimated the two fields which make up Greater Sunrise hold 5.1 trillion cubic feet of gas and 226 million barrels of condensate.

Woodside Energy insists the only commercial option is to process the gas in Darwin, where there is established infrastructure.

But the President told reporters in Canberra the company’s proposal “makes no sense” to pipe it south to Darwin when Timor-Leste is only 200km from the field. Darwin is located around 500km away.

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He suggested if the Australian government doesn’t want to support it, it may have to turn to Indonesia, South Korea or China, who the Dr Ramos-Horta say have all expressed interest.

“We’re not talking about maritime security. It’s just a pipeline! And China will be just an investor. Australia rented the Darwin port to China; no one lost sleep over it,” he joked to some laughter.

Dr Ramos-Horta suggested the reason why the energy company did not want to back the pipeline to his nation was over fears of “so-called sovereign risk”.

“We are not Venezuela with nationalised companies … no need to fear,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Ramos-Horta signed a decade in the making defence co-operation agreement with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“We have been working towards a DCA for over a decade and today’s signing is a significant step forward in our partnership,” Mr Albanese said.

The pair also discussed common security, economic co-operation, labour mobility and skills, the green economy and Australia’s support for Timor-Leste’s ASEAN membership bid.



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