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Office of the Prime Minister

17 February 2005

Timor-Leste Completes Highly Successful Seismic Survey

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said today that Timor-Leste was poised to commence independent development of its petroleum resources in the Timor Sea following the highly successful completion of a comprehensive seismic survey.

The Prime Minister was commenting after return to Dili today of the specialized seismic survey vessel MV Zephyr. The ship and its crew of 39, including 3 Timorese trainees, have collected 6,500km of seismic data over an area of 30,000 square km over the past seven weeks.

“This survey puts our new nation on a sound footing to develop petroleum resources in our own area of the Timor Sea. This data will shortly be made available for industry to bid for exploration rights,” he said. The Prime Minister said the survey marked Timor-Leste's first sovereign licensing round. To date all petroleum activities have been conducted with Australia in the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA), which was created by the Timor Sea Treaty. The area covered by the survey extends from the southern coastline of Timor-Leste to the northern border of the JPDA.

The Prime Minister said this initiative indicated that Timor-Leste was determined to press ahead with the development of its own petroleum potential in onshore and offshore areas, and would not be distracted by the dispute with Australia.

He added that the Timor-Leste National Parliament was expected to pass soon a package of laws for the licensing of offshore and onshore development. A bidding round for onshore development rights could take place soon after the laws have been promulgated.

The seismic survey was conducted by the BGP-GGS consortium. BGP is owned by PetroChina and GGS is a Norwegian company. The Government received a number of bids in an open tender last year. BGP-GGS made a very competitive bid that also emphasized training of national staff.

Mr. Geir Ytreland, Dili-based manager of the Norwegian Government’s Norad technical assistance project, said results of the survey had far exceeded expectations. It was completed ahead of schedule with an additional 500km of data produced on top of the specified 6,000km.

Mr. Ytreland said data would be available for acquisition by companies in April, and formal bidding for exploration rights will commence in June. The Government plans to award exploration rights at the end of 2005.

Mr. Ytreland, a geologist with 30 years’ experience in the petroleum industry, said Timor-Leste is highly prospective in petroleum resources, both onshore and offshore.

“Many of the known oil-bearing rock formations in the prospective part of the Timor Sea are very similar to what is found in the North Sea. There are also indications of potentially large hydrocarbon resources in limestone reservoirs, similar to what is seen in the Middle East, he said.

“There are also dozens of onshore oil and gas seeps. This is indicative of deeper lying oil pools, derived from a petroleum system very similar to those found in the Timor Sea today,” he added.

Information about forthcoming bid rounds can be found at

Contact: Paul Cleary, 670723 4151; Geir Ytreland 670 7231551

The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua D. Alberto Ricardo, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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