Timor Leste Oil and Gas Industry

Timor Leste Oil and Gas Fields

TIMOR LESTE has become an independent country. Large deposits of oil and natural gas under the Timor Sea, in Timor-Leste’s territory as well as that of neighboring Australia and Indonesia, have been explored for more than forty years. During 2006, new exploration contracts were signed for areas in the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) and in Timor-Leste’s exclusive maritime territory.

The Petroleum Fund Law is a pillar of the Government’s petroleum revenue management plans. Briefly, it establishes the parameters for operation and management of the Petroleum Fund, governs the collection and management of receipts from Petroleum wealth, regulates transfers to the State Budget, and provides for government accountability and supervision of these activities. In 2008, the National Petroleum Authority or Autoridade Nacional do Petroleo (ANP) took over the management of petroleum operations in the Joint Petroleum Development Area. The ANP supervises the rules and regulations covering the exploration, development, production, transportation and distribution of petroleum and natural gas resources. It is also tasked with developing a strong petroleum management institution in Timor-Leste.


In 1991, prior to the country’s independence, Timor-Leste’s oil resources had been divided between Indonesia and Australia by the illegal Timor Gap Treaty. Currently, the Bayu-Undan field is the main contributor to the country’s income. It has an estimated total oil reserve of 400 million barrels, of which 20 million barrels have been produced. It is operated by CoconoPhillips, with Timor-Leste having 90% interests for upstream projects.

Having reserves of 290 million barrels, the Greater Sunrise field is operated by Woodside, with Timor-Leste controlling 50% interest. Operations have been put on hold until boundary agreement and Petroleum Plan are finalized by all parties. The Elang Kakatua field was operated by CoconoPhillips from 1998 to 2007. The National Petroleum Authority is now looking for a new operator as CoconoPhillips is no longer interested. The field has around 56 million barrels of oil, and Timor-Leste has a 90% interest in upstream projects.


Currently, the Bayu Undan field (Block JPDA 03-12 and Block JPDA 03-13) is the only income-producing gas field to the country. Operated by CoconoPhillips Pty Ltd, the field produces about 1 bcf per day of which 500mmscf is piped to Darwin, and 500 mmscf is re-injected back to the reservoir. Other patners in this project include Santos Limited, INPEX Corporation, ENI Australia Limited, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Ltd and Tokyo Gas Company Limited.

The consortium of Woodside Petroleum Timor Sea Pty Ltd, CoconoPhillips Pty Ltd, Shell Development Pty Ltd and Osaka Gas (ZOCA) Pty Ltd has started exploration on 2 blocks in 2010; namely Block JPDA 03-19 and Block JPDA 03-20, commonly known as the Greater Sunrise field. Woodside Petroleum Timor, the operator, has forwarded 3 development options: pipeline to Darwin, Australia; pipeline to Timor-Leste or a floating LNG processing plant.


Oilex Limited, the operator of the Block JPDA 06-103 has issued a statement that it has received approval from the Autoridade Nacional do Petroleo (ANP), the Designated Authority for the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) to vary its work programme and production sharing scheme. Under the revised agreement, if the third well is unsuccessful, Oilex has the discretion whether to proceed with drilling the fourth commitment well.

ENI Australia Ltd is now offering a 30% equity in its 5 exploration blocks; S06-01 to S06-05. Measuring about 10,000 sq km, the 5 blocks span the Bonaparte Basin and Timor Trough. Over 25 million barrels of oil reserves have been identified. Works completed to date have included 2D and 3D seismic acquisition and interpretation, geo streamer surveys and seabed coring.


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