FRENTE REVOLUCIONÁRIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE
15 July 2008
FRETILIN condemns secret Timor Sea gas deal
FRETILIN today condemned a secret deal by Xanana Gusmao’s de facto AMP government to give a foreign oil company the exclusive right to market petroleum from the Greater Sunrise Field in the Timor Sea.
FRETILIN said the multi-billion-dollar deal again raised questions about malpractice and maladministration within the Gusmao administration and demanded that details and copies of the agreement be made public.
FRETILIN parliamentarian and former Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Jose
Teixeira said: “From the little they have told us, the government has given the exclusive right to market petroleum from the Greater Sunrise Field to a single foreign company without an open tender.
“It is internationally recognized best practice that deals such as this should not be secret. Only by treating them with the utmost transparency will you safeguard against corruption,” Teixeira said.
“To pick a company that will do the best job for Timor-Leste requires an open and competitive tender process. The government did not do this and we demand that they be held publicly accountable for their actions.
“The public has the right to know what price the company will pay for obtaining these exclusive rights, exactly how Timor-Leste will benefit from this deal, and exactly what other concessions the government has given this foreign company.
“This contract involves billions of dollars because the marketing company is responsible for finding buyers for our petroleum who will sign long-term contracts with the government of Timor-Leste.”
Teixeira added that the deal also threatened Timor-Leste’s reputation as a favourable investment environment for the exploration of petroleum resources.
“Without naming the company, we are aware it has its own interests in the Timor Sea Joint Petroleum Development Area. The company also does not have any interests in any upstream activities such as processing and refining.
“However, it seems this company may also have been granted participatory rights in any LNG plant which will be built in Timor-Leste.
“This raises potential for conflict of interest which prejudices the rights of other existing contractors in the Timor Sea who invested on the basis that Timor-Leste was committed to a world-class transparent regime. The other Timor Sea contractors would be justified in feeling that their trust has been shattered,” said Mr Teixeira.
“I have asked the de facto government twice in parliament and twice in meetings of the Natural Resources Parliamentary Committee to be transparent and make the agreement public.
“However, on each occasion Secretary of State for Energy and Natural Resources Alfredo Pires has refused to do so, stating that the documents are a government secret.
“I don’t accept Mr Pires’ response and I don’t believe that the people of Timor-Leste, who demand transparency and accountability from government, accept that the details of this deal should be kept secret.”
Teixeira repeated FRETILIN’s public declaration of November 2007 that because it does not accept the legitimacy of the AMP Government, all agreements entered into by this government, especially those relating to sovereignty and natural resources, would be considered on a case-by-case basis when FRETILIN returns to government.
“That consideration would necessarily involve examining the transparency and commercial propriety of natural resources agreements,” he said.
Note: As the former Minister for Energy and Natural Resources under the leadership of former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, Jose Teixeira was instrumental in establishing in Timor-Leste a petroleum regime which has been applauded by industry experts and the international community as a world leader in transparency. In 2005-2006, Teixeira oversaw what has been widely acclaimed as the most transparent international bid round for acreage blocks in Timor-Leste’s exclusive offshore areas.
For further information contact: Jose Teixeira +670 728 7080
Nilva Guimaraes +670 734 0389