MELBOURNE, Feb. 8 -- The government of Timor-Leste is finalizing details for a new petroleum fiscal regime this month before an onshore and offshore licensing round scheduled during April and June.
The regime will be based on a production-sharing contract system benchmarked against similar arrangements in other countries within Southeast Asia to ensure it will be competitive.
At the same time, Timor-Leste's Energy and Minerals Directorate is preparing a geological and geophysical data package covering areas to be licensed in what will be the country's first offer of exploration rights in 3 decades.
Late last year, a joint venture of China's PetroChina and Norway's Global Geo Services ASA received a contract to acquire about 6,400 km of 2D seismic data in offshore areas to the south of Timor that are clearly not in dispute with Australia. The data will be available for purchase by companies that wish to participate in the new licensing round.
Only one offshore well has been drilled in the region—Mola-1 about 3 km off the south coast. It found noncommercial gas in Pliocene-age reservoirs in 1975.
Permits will also be offered in the country's onshore region, particularly the southern half where numerous oil and gas seeps have been well documented since the early 1900s. There has been no onshore drilling in the country since the Indonesian annexation of East Timor in 1975.
Prior to that, 22 wells were drilled by Timor Oil Ltd., Sydney, during 1957-74. Numerous oil and gas shows were noted during this program, and two wells, Matai-1 and Cota Taci-1, both on the southwest coast near the border with West Timor, flowed at 160 b/d and 200 b/d, respectively. This was not enough to sustain commercial production.
Timor-Leste also is planning to establish a national oil company modeled on the Brazilian state oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA to participate in upstream and downstream operations and a National Petroleum Fund to manage its potential oil and gas revenues.
Officials from the Energy and Minerals Directorate plan visits to Asia, Europe, and the US to make presentations on the licensing round.