East Timor maritime dispute sent to The Hague

A map of the disputed region.

A map of the disputed region.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, will oversee the dispute between Australia and East Timor over maritime boundaries.

Australia and East Timor are seeking to permanently resolve the division of offshore oil and gas resources between the two countries, with Woodside’s proposed Greater Sunrise gas field development at the centre of the dispute.

East Timor is seeking for the boundaries agreed in a 2006 treaty to be reconsidered following allegations that Australian spies bugged the cabinet office of its government during the negotiations.

The Sunrise and Troubadour gas and condensate fields, collectively known as the Greater Sunrise fields, are located in the Timor Sea, approximately 450 km north-west of Darwin and 150 km south of Timor-Leste in permits NT/RL2, NT/RL4, and the joint petroleum development area permits JPDA 03-19, and JPDA 03-20.

Woodside and its joint venture partners have proposed to develop the gas fields either via a pipeline linking the fields to Darwin, or most recently via an FLNG concept, however the East Timor Government wants the gas to be transported via pipeline to East Timor for development.

While a pipeline to East Timor would be shorter in length than a pipeline to Darwin, the pipeline route is less feasible, requiring the pipeline to traverse more treacherous seabed conditions.

Australia is insisting that the agreed treaty be honoured, and has resisted renegotiating a permanent border until at least 2056.

The conciliation process will be negotiated behind closed doors throughout 2017.

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