In this connection, the oil and gas major’s subsidiary Shell Australia has signed a sales and purchase agreement (SPA) to transfer its ownership stake in the Greater Sunrise project to the tiny country located in Maritime Southeast Asia.

The deal will enable the East Timor government and joint venture partners to move ahead with the development of the Greater Sunrise fields, which are made up of the Sunrise and Troubadour gas and condensate fields. East Timor is planning to undertake the development through an onshore LNG facility on its south coast.

East Timor Special Representative Xanana Gusmão said: “Shell’s attitude throughout the negotiations shows that it is ready to consider not only its commercial interests but also the interests of small nations.”

The Greater Sunrise fields are located in Australian waters about 150km south east of East Timor and 450km northwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Discovered in 1974, the fields span across either side of the maritime border between Australia and East Timor. Maritime border disputes between the two countries had played their part in delaying the Greater Sunrise project, reported Reuters. Earlier this year, both the countries agreed to settle the border issues.

The deal signed by the East Timor government covers Shell’s permits NT/RL2 and NT/RL4 in Australia waters along with the PSC 03-19 and PSC 03-20 permits within Timor-Leste waters and associated governance agreements.

Shell Australia EVP Zoe Yujnovich said: “This sale aligns with our global strategy to reshape Shell into a simpler and more resilient company.

“Our Australian portfolio remains strong as operator of both the QGC onshore natural gas project, Prelude FLNG and significant positions in the Gorgon and North West Shelf LNG projects.”

Closing of the deal will be subject to receipt of funding approval from the East Timor Council of Ministers and National Parliament, and also regulatory approvals and partner pre-emption rights.

Last month, ConocoPhillips agreed to sell its 30% stake in the Greater Sunrise project to the East Timor government for $350m.

With Shell and ConocoPhillips set to leave the offshore gas and condensate fields, the remaining partners alongside East Timor will be Woodside, the current operator with 30% stake, and Osaka Gas with a 10% stake.