HOBART, Tasmania, Apr. 9--East Timor negotiators complicated talks with Australia over shared royalty payments from petroleum production in the Timor Sea by claiming rights to Laminaria-Corallina-Buffalo oil fields and part of the yet-to-be-developed Sunrise-Troubadour gas fields.
These fields lie outside the Timor Gap Zone of Cooperation. The claims stem from what the East Timorese say is an invalid 1972 negotiation of part of the offshore boundary between Australia and Indonesia.
The East Timorese add that they do not recognize the 1989 Timor Gap Treaty between Australia and Indonesia and thus also claim Elang-Kakatua oil fields and Bayu-Undan gas/condensate field.
Explaining the position to delegates at the 41st Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Conference in Hobart, Tasmania, Ambassador Peter Galbraith, Cabinet Minister for Political Affairs in the United Nations Temporary Administration in East Timor, said that the 1972 boundary was drawn along the edge of the continental shelf which, because of the deep trough just off Timor, gave most of the area to Australia.
Galbraith said the East Timorese want more of the area at the ends of the gap and a repositioned medial line. He said they are willing to submit the issue to a neutral entity for resolution.
Also at the APPEA Conference, Esso Australia Resources Pty. Ltd. and BHP Ltd. said they converted a 1999 memorandum of understanding to a 15-year agreement to supply gas to Tasmania via Duke Energy Corp.'s proposed subsea pipeline from Longford, Victoria. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2002 from Esso-BHP's Bass Strait fields.
Duke signed a $100 million (Aus.) contract for 700 km of 350-mm pipe. The line will cross Bass Strait to Bell Bay in northern Tasmania and extend to Port Latta and Hobart.