Timor-Leste, Australia settle border dispute, opening path for development of Sunrise gas fields

Australia and Timor-Leste have reached an agreement resolving their long-standing maritime border issue.

The agreement, to be signed in March, will pave the way for the development of the giant Sunrise gas and condensate field in the Timor Sea stalled for years due to the maritime border issue between the two nations. The project is operated by Australia’s Woodside.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Timor-Leste government said: “…the Parties have reached agreement on a treaty which delimits the maritime boundary between them in the Timor Sea and addresses the legal status of the Greater Sunrise gas field, the establishment of a Special Regime for Greater Sunrise, and a pathway to the development of the resource.

It further said: “The treaty also establishes revenue sharing arrangements between the governments of Timor-Leste and Australia where the shares of upstream revenue allocated to each of the Parties will differ depending on downstream benefits associated with the different development concepts for the Greater Sunrise gas field.”

The Sunrise and Troubadour gas and condensate fields, collectively known as the Greater Sunrise fields, are located approximately 150 kilometers southeast of Timor-Leste and 450 kilometers northwest of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

The two governments have agreed to convene at 5:00pm on 6 March 2018 in New York for the signature of their new Maritime Boundaries Treaty.

The spat had been caused as the two nations had differing views on where the maritime border should be.

Australia claimed its maritime boundary went as far as its continental shelf went, which well surpasses the imaginary equidistant line splitting the sea between the two countries.
Timor-Leste, however, wanted the permanent maritime border at a median line between the opposing countries.

It has previously been reported that the median line and the lateral maritime border extension the way Timor Leste wants it to happen would then place the whole Greater Sunrise area into the Timorese waters and jurisdiction.

Sunrise

The Greater Sunrise fields were discovered in 1974 and hold gross (100%) contingent resources (2C) of 5.13 Tcf of gas and 226 million barrels of condensate.

Woodside, the operator of the project, has previously said it remains committed to developing the Greater Sunrise fields and considers it vital that both the Timor-Leste and Australian governments agree the legal, regulatory and fiscal regime applicable to the resource.

Earlier in February, Woodside said it continued to engage with both Governments and its joint venture in discussions on a pathway to the development of the resource.

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