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Sunrise LNG in Timor-Leste:
Dreams, Realities and Challenges

 A Report by La’o Hamutuk
 Timor-Leste Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis

 By Guteriano Neves, Charles Scheiner and Santina Soares

 February 2008

This report is also published on paper, on a CD-ROM (with the referenced documents), and on the internet at On this OilWeb CD, you can read it in your browser or in the following formats:

This report draws on more than a hundred sources, many of which include valuable background on LNG economics and technology and on Timor-Leste's situation. In addition to following links from within the report, you can access many of them from this list of references.

Technical and economic terms used in this report are defined in a Glossary, which also serves to introduce fundamental concepts necessary to understand these issues.

The fiscal model used in this report to project possible revenues for Timor-Leste under different scenarios is available in this Excel spreadsheet.

(This OilWeb CD-ROM also contains earlier information on Pipeline options and LNG.  See also lists of documents related to the Greater Sunrise oilfield and Woodside Petroleum.)

Table of Contents (click on a chapter to read it)


Executive Summary  also Rezumu ezekutivu iha lian Tetum

Chapter 1. Dreams and expectations

Chapter 2. Choices for development

Chapter 3. The plant

Chapter 4. In Timor-Leste or For Timor-Leste?

Chapter 5. Employment and infrastructure

Chapter 6. Impact on the social and natural environment

Chapter 7. Effects on women

Chapter 8. International and domestic politics

Chapter 9. Fulfilling the dream

Appendix 1. Oil and gas in and near Timor-Leste

Appendix 2. History of Sunrise developments

Appendix 3. Fiscal effects

Appendix 4. History of accidents in the LNG industry

Appendix 5. Risk analysis

Appendix 6. Field visit report

Appendix 7. Glossary of technical and economic terms

Appendix 8. References



This report is the collective effort of La’o Hamutuk’s Natural Resources Team, with assistance from a number of other knowledgeable people. Two technical contributors, Guillermo Franco1 (engineering, risk and environmental impact) and Martin E. Sandbu2 (social and economic development) joined us in Timor-Leste for some of the research and assisted greatly in writing and reviewing the report. From La’o Hamutuk’s staff collective, Guteriano Neves, Charles Scheiner and Santina Soares worked on the entire report, and were joined by Tibor van Staveren and Viriato Seac during editing and finalization. Emma Conlan, formerly with Oxfam Australia in Timor-Leste, assisted with the executive summary and final edits. Although this report is the accumulation of the contributions, expertise and research of each of the authors and contributors, responsibility for its contents, conclusions and recommendations rests with La’o Hamutuk.

La’o Hamutuk (Walking Together in English), also known as the Timor-Leste Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis, is a seven-year-old Timor-Leste non-governmental organization that monitors, analyzes and reports on the principal international institutions present in Timor-Leste as they relate to the physical, economic, and social reconstruction and development of the country. La’o Hamutuk believes that the people of Timor-Leste must be the ultimate decision-makers in this process and that this process should be democratic and transparent. La’o Hamutuk is an independent organization and works to facilitate effective Timorese participation, to improve communication between the international community and Timorese society, to provide resources on alternative development models, and to facilitate links between Timorese groups and groups abroad. For the last five years, La’o Hamutuk has been the leading force in civil society on many aspects of Timor-Leste’s petroleum development, including boundary negotiations with Australia, regulating the offshore upstream industry, developing petroleum legislation and managing petroleum revenues. La’o Hamutuk also participates in international networks on these issues, and is publishing this report to share our knowledge and experience with a broad range of Timorese citizens, leaders and organizations.

We have published this report to help Timor-Leste complete and improve legal and other mechanisms to develop a Liquefied Natural Gas plant and to manage our non-renewable natural resources well. Many of its findings are also relevant to other major industrial facilities. These are large and complex topics, and we hope that the many sources we have drawn upon can provide insights and references for further studies and implementation.


1    Guillermo Franco, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Engineer in AIR Worldwide’s Research and Modeling group in Boston, USA, specializing in risk modeling and post-disaster damage reconnaissance. Prior to joining the company, he was a Research Fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Dr. Franco holds a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Columbia University in Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. Guillermo collaborated with La’o Hamutuk in the research stage and field investigation for this report and consulted on aspects related to infrastructure, environmental impact, and risk.

2    Martin E. Sandbu, Ph.D., teaches at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, USA, focusing on Ethics and Corporate Responsibility. He has a Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University and a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Balliol College, Oxford University, and spent two years as an Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University, USA. Martin has shared his knowledge about the political economy of natural resources and development with La’o Hamutuk and Timor-Leste for several years, and participated with La’o Hamutuk on the field research and on fiscal, economic and social impact aspects of this report.

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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