Australia and East Timor to sign sea border with implications for billion-dollar gas fields

Australia and East Timor to sign sea border with implications for billion-dollar gas fields

This treaty signed in New York will confirm their disputed maritime border.

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Photo: ConocoPhillips

Today, Australia and East Timor will today sign a treaty in New York confirming their disputed maritime border. East Timor could potentially get 80% of the $39 billion proceeds from the lucrative Greater Sunrise oil and petrol field now lying mostly within East Timorese waters.

East Timor is a small nation 600 kilometres off the northwest coast of Australia that won its independence, with Australian support, from Indonesia in 2002. The new country contended that the maritime border should be halfway between itself and Australia. Canberra determined the border to be where the Australian continental shelf ended. Both countries’ versions would have put the oil and petrol fields within their territory.

It is a huge win for the impoverished East Timor that took Canberra to the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague. It is likely to improve relations between the two allies strained by an Australian intelligence spying scandal over the disputed oil and gas fields, especially in light of growing Chinese influence in East Timor in recent years.

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