Greater Sunrise

Bayu-Undan is the key to opening gas-based development in the Territory. The next big development is Sunrise – the largest gas field yet discovered in the Timor Sea. Sunrise contains 8.4 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas.

There are four partners in the Sunrise project: Shell, Woodside, Osaka Gas and ConocoPhillips. The field was discovered 25 years ago. In 1997 the North Australian Gas Venture was established to build a LNG plant in Darwin and explore gas markets in China, with help from the Northern Territory Government. After the Asian economic crisis, the emphasis was placed on domestic gas markets in Darwin, including Nabalco and the Power and Water Authority.

In November 2000, Shell and Woodside reached agreement with ConocoPhillips for cooperative development of the Bayu-Undan and Sunrise fields, including a shared pipeline from the Timor Sea to the Northern Territory. A range of customers was announced, including Methanex and El Paso. However, because of uncertainty over the timing of pipeline construction, Methanex moved to Western Australia and the El Paso agreement lapsed.

In August 2001, Shell announced plans to develop Sunrise with a floating liquefied natural gas barge (FLNG) rather than bringing gas onshore to Darwin. This means the gas would be exported directly to Asia and America without value added processing in the Territory. It would reduce gas available to support Territory industry and scuttle plans to take Timor Sea gas to interstate markets in Australia.

The Northern Territory Government believes there are plenty of customers to make onshore gas development profitable for the developers. It also believes that Sunrise gas onshore is essential, in the national interest, to meet Australia’s energy needs in the next 20 years.

In December 2002, the Sunrise joint venture partners announced that onshore LNG was not their preferred option.

For more information on Sunrise Gas, read the Sunrise gas publications or other oil and gas publications.

Last updated:   Monday, June 30, 2003