Timor-Leste to Junk Gas Treaty with Australia
Timor-Leste has said it has decided to terminate an oil and gas treaty signed in 2006. The government of Australia has taken note of this wish and recognises that Timor-Leste has the right to initiate the termination of the treaty. “Accordingly, the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea will cease to be in force as of three months from the date of that notification,” the two countries said in a joint statement released January 9.
Greater Sunrise field (Credit: Conoco)
The treaty provides for equal distribution of revenue derived from the disputed Greater Sunrise gas field between the two nations. The field is located in the Timor Gap where Australia and East Timor have overlapping claims over the continental shelf or seabed. The agreement had outlined a 50-year freeze on negotiations for a permanent border.
The Sunrise and Troubadour gas and condensate fields, collectively known as the Greater Sunrise fields, are about 150 km southeast of Timor-Leste and 450 km northwest of Darwin, Northern Territory. The Sunrise joint venture partners, Woodside Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, Anglo-Dutch major Shell and Japan's Osaka Gas, have decided to shelve their plans owing to the dispute.
Australia and Timor-Leste are engaged in the ongoing conciliation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The purpose of this process is to resolve the differences between the two states over maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been tense since East Timorese officials accused Australia of spying on cabinet ministers amid negotiations on the treaty to divide the fields.