History and Exploration

Timor-Leste is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia and covers an area of approximately 15,000km2

The nation is currently undergoing a period of rapid development, predominantly funded by revenue generated by the ConocoPhillips-operated Bayu-Undan gas and condensate field, which has provided around $20 billion to the country over the past 10 years.

The oil and gas potential of Timor-Leste has long been recognised but has remained largely untapped and under explored for the last forty years due to geopolitical issues. This is the first time in more than 40 years that onshore Timor-Leste has opened its doors to petroleum investment in search of the next major global oil discovery.

Matai-1A wellhead. Plastic bottle contains oil collected from the well.

Onshore Timor-Leste contains large anticlinal structures with associated oil and gas seeps, which have the potential to hold significant hydrocarbon accumulations

The onshore hydrocarbon potential of Timor-Leste is significant. Numerous oil and gas seeps were known to locals who expanded these to “oil pits” from which considerable oil was recovered. This attracted activity from international companies, and between 1910 and 1973 a number of wells were drilled, resulting in oil recoveries and completion of three wells, from which oil can still be recovered. Recent geological work has identified a number of structural and stratigraphic traps, with estimates of potential size sufficient to host significant hydrocarbon accumulations. Many of these anticlines have surface expression and are associated with oil and gas seeps. Anticlinal traps, such as the ones found in Timor-Leste, are the most important structural element for oil explorers, accounting for around 80 per cent of the world’s discovered petroleum resources.

Cota Taçi-1 wellhead. The well can deliver oil at pressure, and has been collected by locals for use.

Joint Venture

Timor Resources has acquired the two most prospective coastal blocks A and C under a Production Sharing Contract (“PSC”) with Autoridade Nacional do Petróleo e Minerais (ANPM) which is a Government authority for Timor-Leste. Timor Resources enters this area with Joint Venture partner Timor Gap which is the National Oil Company of Timor-Leste.

  • Large acreage – 2000 square kilometres (200,000 hectares)
  • Operator of license areas A and C
  • Potential for a world class discovery
  • Resource best estimate of 857 million barrels of recoverable oil unrisked, based on existing geological and geophysical data.
  • Multiple targets and play types have been identied
  • Attractive fiscal regime
  • Government support
  • More than 60 oil and gas seeps to surface have been identified
  • Analysis of recovered oil confirms favourable characteristics of 25o API gravity, and low sulphur (0.08%)

Suai Loro-1 wellhead. Oil can be bailed from the pipe.

Matai natural oil seep (2003)

Matai surface oil seep (2016)

Pipe with plaque marking the Suai-2A wellhead.

Pipe marking Tafara East-1, originally onshore but now offshore.

Two of approximately twenty gas seeps on the Bazol Anticline, immediately north.

Government Support and Domestic market requirements

Timor is currently heavily dependent on imports of refined oil products including gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and kerosene. The cost of the country’s reliance on imports for refined petroleum was $98.4M in 2014 and now estimated in more than $140M per annum.

The Timorese government is eager to extend its successful offshore oil production activities to onshore, and is supporting activity in this area through a range of onshore initiatives to promote domestic hydrocarbon production, domestic retail distribution, and surplus for export.

Timor Gap has a mandate to implement the ‘Tasi Mane’ project – a three-cluster development project to support onshore hydrocarbon production through construction and operation of a refinery, petrochemical plant, LNG plant and a network of petrol stations to ensure high quality fuel distribution across Timor-Leste.