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Journal article

The uncharted hazards of the Timor Sea dispute

16 Sep 2015

In the course of the Timor Sea maritime boundary quarrel, the recent declarations made by the main Australian opposition party in support of East Timorese territorial claims have the serious potential of irreversibly upsetting the territorial status quo, with adverse consequences for both East Timor and Australia, the only potential beneficiary being third party Indonesia.

At the heart of the quarrel are two large oil and gas fields, Sunrise and Troubadour, 80% of which lie under Australian seabed and Indonesian water, while 20% is in the Australian-East Timorese Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA), where East Timor commands 90% of all revenue and Australia 10%. Although this situation would result in Australia receiving 82% of revenue from the fields and East Timor 18% only, the two countries agreed in 2006 to share the revenue from Sunrise and Troubadour equally, 50% - 50%. Nevertheless, the development of the fields has ever since been stymied by East Timor, whose new avowed position since the agreement was signed is that boundaries need to be redrawn so as to give her 100% of the fields.

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