15 October 2015

Come to a public meeting about the Tasi Mane Project

The Implications of the Tasi Mane Project for Timor-Leste’s Society and Economy
Thursday, 22 October 2015    9:00 – 12:30
Auditorium, UNTL Liceu campus, Kaikoli, Dili

Timor-Leste is one of the most petroleum dependent countries in the world: sales of oil and gas made up 73% of state revenues in 2014, and another 20% came from the investment of past oil income. However, in 2014, oil revenues fell by 40% compared to the previous year. This was partly a result of the fall in global oil prices, but was also largely due to the fact that production levels fell by 24% in the same period. Our oil is running out – production peaked in 2012, and will continue to fall as Kitan ends production this year, and Bayu-Undan ends around five years after that.

The Tasi Mane Project – the Suai Supply Base, Betano Refinery, Beaçu LNG Plant and South Coast Highway – is discussed in the national Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030. However, La’o Hamutuk has serious concerns about the economic feasibility of this project, as well its current and future environmental and social impacts. We have discussed this issue with people in Government, civil society and international agencies, and many of them share our concerns.

Timor-Leste is falling into the ‘resource curse’ – where states who depend on extracting non-renewable resources neglect sustainable alternative economic sectors because decision-makers believe that oil will last forever. They also fail to improve their people’s well-being by under-investing in public health, education and other essential services. As our oil deposits run out, more and more people inside and outside Government recognize that we must escape from petroleum dependency by diversifying the economy.

We need to consider carefully whether the Tasi Mane petroleum infrastructure project moves us in this direction – it will cost billions to implement, a significant fraction of Timor-Leste’s finite oil and gas wealth. This takes money away from health care, education, sanitation and agriculture, all of which are essential for improving quality of life, strengthening human resources and growing the non-oil economy. Also, these projects will take up valuable agricultural land, reducing productivity and continuing dependency on imports.

The following paragraph was revised after the meeting.
This public meeting began with presentations by Francisco Monteiro, President of TimorGAP and Juvinal Dias of La’o Hamutuk, followed by two hours of lively discussion among the 150 participants. They heard TimorGAP’s plans and dreams, as well as La’o Hamutuk's skeptical perspective (PowerPoint or PDF).

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