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Bureau of Economic Geology Launches New Partnership with Timor-Leste

March 2, 2023
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A strong contingent from the Bureau of Economic Geology recently made a trip halfway around the world at the invitation of the small island nation of Timor-Leste. The country’s national oil and gas company, TIMOR GAP, has sought Bureau assistance in characterizing, and one day developing, the nation’s significant natural gas reserves and in exploring its potential to develop other technologies such as CO2 and hydrogen storage in depleted reservoirs. The team included Bureau researchers Robin Dommisse, Dallas Dunlap, Jay Kipper, Toti Larson, and Hongliu Zeng, as well as Mojdeh Delshad from the UT-Austin Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering.

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste was the first new sovereign state of the twenty-first century, being accepted into the United Nations in May of 2002. Located on an island in the southern Pacific Ocean north of Australia, the country has a population of about 1.1 million people. It is a former colony of Portugal, and Portuguese is still one of its official languages. The nation is predominantly agrarian, and, with a growing population, it has a critical need to expand its infrastructure and modernize its economy.

The Bureau will use state-of-the-art geological, geophysical, and petroleum engineering technologies to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the country’s Greater Sunrise Field Complex, which contains two undeveloped gas and condensate fields. The studies will be done in close collaboration with TIMOR GAP engineers and geoscientists to allow for seamless knowledge transfer. Three to six TIMOR GAP scientists will travel to the Bureau soon for several months of work in the integrated project, giving them a hands-on perspective on research techniques and technology as well as providing them an opportunity to return home with new research and leadership skills.

During the trip, the Bureau team met with the nation’s energy minister and briefed U.S. Embassy staff on the project. “The people we met were wonderful—caring, thoughtful and enthusiastic to work on this project,” recalled Dallas Dunlap, project manager. “Our team established a real bond with them, and we are all deeply invested in the success of this project. Having the benefit of revenue from gas production could be a game changer for Timor-Leste’s economy and for the future prosperity of its people.”

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