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Lucrative East Timor Petroleum Project Advances


An international petroleum project is moving forward that will give East Timor's economy some badly needed relief. International oil giant ConocoPhillips is set to begin work immediately on the $1.5 billion Bayu-Undan liquid gas project. The project received final approval this week.

ConocoPhillips' role is to build a pipeline to take liquefied natural gas from the Timor Sea to a processing facility in Darwin, Australia.

Ten percent of the revenues will go to Australia; the other 90 percent will go to East Timor.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the project should go far in relieving East Timor's poverty. "The amounts involved will be considerable and I think will give east Timor a much better start as a new nation," he said. East Timor is projected to receive about $3 billion from the project over the next 20 years.

Australia's largest airline, Qantas, says it raised $450 million this week in a U.S. debt deal.

The airline issued 10 year, unsecured notes to United States, Asian, and European institutional investors. Qantas executives say the proceeds will be used for refinancing maturing debt and other corporate expenses.

Indonesia's government may increase the size of an initial share offer for the country's largest national bank. Indonesian officials say there is strong investor demand for Bank Mandiri, which the government is selling as part of a wider privatization plan.

Indonesia originally planned to put 15 percent of the bank on the market, issuing three billion shares with a book value of about $1.5 billion. Indonesian officials say if demand remains strong, they will sell a larger stake. Final pricing is scheduled for June 27.

South Korea says it will appeal to the World Trade Organization after the United States imposed 44 percent tariffs against its huge Hynix Semiconductor Corporation.

The United States says South Korea unfairly subsidized the chipmaker, allowing it to undercut global prices. South Korea denies this and calls the tariff "unjustified and illegal." A United States commission will issue a final ruling on the tariff at the end of July.

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