Offshore processing worth billions to NT

http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2010/05/12/146821_nt-business.html

NT News

Offshore processing worth billions to NT

NICK CALACOURAS

May 12th, 2010

ENERGY giant Woodside has told Northern Territory leaders its off-shore
gas processing platform will lead to billions of dollars of investment
in Darwin.

And Woodside boss Don Voelte has issued a subtle threat to East Timor if
the tiny nation tries to pull out of a multibillion-dollar international
agreement.

East Timor was competing with Darwin to process the LNG from the Greater
Sunrise field – but Woodside decided on a cheaper third option to build
an experimental floating platform.

East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmo has threatened to sink the entire
development in response.

But Woodside chief executive Don Voelte said East Timor could not
legally back out of the deal.

“They cannot walk away from it.”

Mr Voelte said the developing country would be breaking a treaty it
signed two and a half years ago – which would hurt its ability to deal
with the United States, the European Union or any other international
body.

“It will do them a lot of damage … But we’ll win it on the merits of
the program.” he said.

Mr Voelte said the floating platform would offer billions of dollars
worth of construction to businesses in Darwin and Dili.

He said it would be a “country building” project for East Timor and
would lead to billions of dollars of investment in Darwin.

“So here you have a project which is going to be billions and billions
and billions of dollars and the nearest and closest existing (industry)
capable of handling that is right here in Darwin,” he said.

Chief Minister Paul Henderson discussed opportunities for the
Territory’s involvement in the project with Mr Voelte last week.

Woodside was unable to make any concrete offers, but promised there
would be “significant” economic and job opportunities.

Mr Henderson said he was not concerned that off-shore processing
facilities could hurt the Territory’s economy in the future.

“I am a realist. I have to be as realist as the Chief Minister. Like
King Canute couldn’t hold back the tide, we are going to see more of
these remote fields processed offshore. That’s the reality of where the
technology is heading,” he said.

Floating processing facilities could be used to develop smaller fields
north of Darwin that were not financially viable previously.

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