Timor takes Sunrise case to ASX
<http://www.theage.com.au >The Age
May 13, 2010
THE East Timorese government has complained to the ASX about Woodside’s announcement that it plans to build a floating liquefied natural gas platform above the multibillion-dollar Greater Sunrise field in the Timor Sea.
A briefing prepared for East Timor’s parliament says that in a letter to the ASX, the government has accused Woodside of not providing the public and press with accurate information about the status of the project.
The letter says statements by Woodside have ”the potential to mislead the market as to the true position with regard to the development of the Greater Sunrise project”.
It says the statements ”may have an impact upon the way in which Woodside is perceived by the market and thus [have] an impact upon its share price”.
The letter reiterates demands by East Timor’s leaders that the Woodside-led consortium build a pipeline to a processing plant on their country’s south coast.
Amid growing acrimony over the project, the leaders have said repeatedly they would not approve either a floating platform or piping the gas to an existing plant in Darwin, which the consortium also considered.
The letter says the government’s stand had been made ”patently apparent to Woodside”. It also says it is clear from a number of recent press releases, and other releases of information, that “Woodside has ignored the government’s position”.
In the letter, East Timor asks the ASX to instruct Woodside to correct statements the company made about Greater Sunrise in its 2009 annual report, market statements and statements made at the company’s annual general meeting on April 30.
Those statements ”clearly give the public and investors the impression that a decision on the development of the Greater Sunrise field is imminent and that it is Woodside and its joint-venture partners that have the final say as to how the development should proceed”.
The letter says Woodside’s statements had failed to acknowledge that the ”Greater Sunrise fields cannot be developed” without East Timor’s consent.
The letter asks Woodside to inform the ASX and the public within seven days ”as to the true position with regard to the development of the Greater Sunrise field”.
It says this includes that negotiations on development of the field are ongoing with relevant authorities in East Timor, and that ”no decisions will be made regarding the development of the field until such a time as all necessary mechanisms for negotiation and discussion of issues relating to the project have been concluded”.
East Timor asks for confirmation that Woodside would make no further releases that fail to acknowledge that East Timor has indicated it will not agree to any development of the field unless a pipeline is built from the field to East Timor.
Woodside chief executive officer Don Voelte told journalists last week – after East Timor’s Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, refused to meet him in Dili – that East Timor could not walk away from the Greater Sunrise agreement it signed only 2½ years ago.