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Australia, East Timor agreement over $50 billion oil and gas field

Sydney Morning Herald - February 26, 2018

Lindsay Murdoch, Bangkok – Australia and East Timor will sign a landmark agreement aimed at opening the way to share revenue from the $50 billion Greater Sunrise oil and gas field in the Timor Sea at the United Nations next week.

But intense negotiations have so far failed to settle how the field could be exploited by a Woodside Energy-led consortium.Recommendations by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, which has overseen negotiations between the neighbouring countries, on how the dispute should be settled are expected to be released in mid-April.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio is set to witness the signing of a new Maritime Boundaries agreement in New York on March 6. Details of the agreement have not been made public.

The agreement will then have to be ratified by the parliaments of both East Timor and Australia. East Timor's Parliament has been dissolved after a months-long political impasse and fresh elections are scheduled for May.

The signing in New York will end years of bitter disagreement over the boundary which successive Australian governments refused to negotiate for years.

The Portuguese news agency Lusa reported in early February from Dili that East Timor could receive up to 80 per cent of revenue from the field which would secure its economic future for decades if the field is developed.

Lusa quoted sources saying East Timor would receive 70 per cent of the revenue if gas is piped to a yet-to-be built industrial complex on East Timor's south coast. Neither Australia or East Timor have commented on the report.

A Woodside Energy Limited-led consortium has been involved in negotiations over the treaty which concluded in Kuala Lumpur last week. The consortium initially said it wanted to build a floating LNG platform to process gas from the field.

Another option is the pipe the gas to an existing processing plant in Darwin. But East Timor's former prime minister and president Xanana Gusmao, who has led his country's negotiations, has insisted the gas to be piped to East Timor.

A spokeswoman for Woodside said: "We hope that the Commission's conclusions and the signing of the Treaty will help to provide the fiscal and regulatory certainty required to develop Greater Sunrise for the benefit all parties."

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/australia-east-timor-agreement-over-50-billion-oil-and-gas-field-20180226-p4z1r2.html