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ANPM’s three year journey to kickstart Timor-Leste's growth

Timor-Leste launched its 2nd licensing round in October 2019, but the country and its promising hydrocarbons industry would never have got to this stage without the tireless work and commitment of its regulatory and public sector authoritative body the Autoridade Nacional do Petróleo e Minerais de Timor-Leste (ANPM). ANPM is responsible for managing and regulating petroleum and mining activities in Timor-Leste and has been a driving force for the nation since its creation.

Shaping Timor-Leste’s hydrocarbon industry

ANPM’s growth and health is tied to Timor-Leste’s growth and health. The Agency has the opportunity to engineer this young country (Timor-Leste gained independence in 2002) on a course of best practices for a prosperous future. Being in a position to establish a new model of regulation and learn from other regulatory bodies in the region, is a key asset for ANPM. The company’s Institutional Strategic Plan describes this mandate as COURAGE – Collaboration, Openness, Unity, Responsibility, Accountability, Global view, Excellence. Its responsibility for the country cannot be understated.

Priorities for the body include ensuring a healthy flow of cash into the country for the coming years and working carefully to maintain such supplies even in worrisome business climates, improving the skill set of Timor-Leste’s workshop and ensuring all datasets are present and correct in time for inviting multinational energy companies to invest. In these areas, ANPM has many examples internationally from which it can learn and can identify pitfalls and miscalculations to avoid.

In addition to day-to-day activities of Timor-Leste’s petroleum sector, the ANPM is also responsible for the regulation of downstream petroleum activities including supply, processing, storage, transportation, trading and marketing of oil and gas products; and regulating mineral activities across Timorese territory including acknowledgement, exploration, assessment, development, exploitation, processing, refining, transportation and commercialisation of resources.

A key upshot of this single body managing so many business areas is that decisions and actions can be taken smoothly and quickly, without the need for multiple agencies to convene multiple meetings with each other.

The first Timor-Leste Oil and Gas summit, held in Dili, took place in October 2019, with H.E. Matan Ruak, with Timor-Leste’s Prime-minister announcing the second bid round to the industry.

The summit attracted over 250 international investors and Timor-Leste’s government was represented at the highest level, holding meetings with IOCs and potential investors.

A country’s hydrocarbon industry with a dedicated and focused leadership is in a better position to get optimal results and more international interest than one which is perceived to be riddled with party politics and delayed decision making. ANPM ensures this is not a feature of Timor-Leste.

In August 2019 ANPM signed six production sharing contracts with operators, on behalf of the Timorese government, five of them with oil and gas companies affected by the Maritime Borders Treaty, in order to ensure the stability and safety of offshore operations in the Timor Sea.

This was the culmination of over 12 months of hard work by ANPM, following the settling of a long running maritime border dispute with Australia. From the six PSCs signed, four are in the Joint Petroleum Development Area, an area of waters which Timor Leste and Australia will develop together following the settling of the aforementioned maritime dispute. The settling of the maritime dispute between the two countries was vital to the future prospects of Timor-Leste and will enable ANPM to drive Timor-Leste’s hydrocarbon growth.

Data-oriented and data-driven

In speaking with IN-VR, Mateus da Costa, director for exploration and promotion at ANPM, said that when he started with the company ten years ago, he was the sole member of his department; now there are nine more colleagues. The organization as a whole has doubled in size within the past decade.

ANPM has acquired 6000 square kilometres of offshore 3D seismic data, one million line kilometres of 2D offshore seismic data, a graded airborne survey of up to 15,000 square kilometres for onshore acreage and 82 wells specifically available for evaluation and technical studies by IOCs interested in applying for the licensing round. An impressive array of data by anyone’s standards, made all the more so by the fact that this agency will be celebrating only its fifth birthday next month in February 2021.

Data is clearly very important for ANPM along with transparency and knowledge passed on to prospective investors well in advance. ANPM is working with Zebra Data Sciences, hosting a virtual data room on ANPM’s behalf, where information critical for prospecting can be found. A list of the available data can be found here:

Furthermore, the government has recognised the importance of the oil industry and the certainty which international investors require, especially in today’s very uncertain business landscape. Thankfully, the oil industry has seen some exemptions from budgetary restrictions caused by Covid-19 and its continuation and stability should be of solace to investors looking at Timor-Leste. The Interim Minister for Economic Affairs, Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, said it was critical petroleum production carried on unimpeded. One very clear signal that the government has made clear in this area is allowing workers involved in production on the Bayu-Undan field entry to the country provided they transferred straight to the platform and did not enter Timor-Leste itself.

The responsibility placed on ANPM is very significant and its success is analogous to Timor-Leste’s success. ANPM is a very young organisation which is still in the inception stage of its growth pattern. Yet it has, undeniably, achieved a great deal in this time. It has a tremendous amount of passion and energy and looks to the future happily and enthusiastically. It is well on the way to becoming a bedrock of Timor Leste’s growth.

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