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Timor-Leste, Australia reach deal on maritime dispute

Agreement covers legal status on oil and gas field and on revenue sharing

Timor-Leste, Australia reach deal on maritime dispute

Timor-Leste students chant slogans during a rally over a maritime boundary dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia, in Dili in this March 2016 file photo. (Photo by Valentino Dariell De Sousa/AFP)

September 4, 2017

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Timor Leste and Australia have reached an agreement covering the main issues surrounding a long-running dispute over gas and oil fields in the Timor Sea.

The agreement was reached on Aug. 30, and announced on Sept. 1 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration following talks in Copenhagen.

Details of the agreement were to remain confidential until several other issues were resolved.

The agreement covered the legal status of the Greater Sunrise gas field, the establishment of a Special Regime for Greater Sunrise and a pathway to developing the resource, as well as sharing revenue, the court said.

It comes after Asia’s most Catholic country Timor-Leste told Australia in January it wanted to scrap a 2006 treaty which split 50-50 future revenue of the Greater Sunrise oil and gas reserves.

The fields are thought to hold gas and oil reserves worth about $53 billion — nearly 30 times Timor' Leste’s annual GDP.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called the agreement a landmark moment in ties between the two countries.

"This agreement, which supports the national interest of both our nations, further strengthens the long-standing and deep ties between our governments and our people," she said.

Timor-Leste's chief negotiator, former president Xanana Gusmao, also welcomed the agreement.

"This is an historic agreement and marks the beginning of a new era in Timor-Leste's friendship with Australia," he said.

The agreement was to be finalized in October.


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