Portugal: Timor-Leste And Australia: Oil Dispute

Last Updated: 30 January 2017
Article by Manuel Santos Vítor and Bernardo Barradas

Most Popular Article in Portugal, January 2017

 On 9 January 2017, the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a trilateral joint statement1 confirming the termination of the 2006 Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (or CMATS) between Timor-Leste and the Government of Australia. This statement was issued on behalf of the Conciliation Commission and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Governments of Timor-Leste and Australia.

In the case of Timor-Leste, the Timorese Parliament adopted on 10 January 2017 the Parliament Resolution nº 01/2017, published on 16 January at the Official Gazette, in which it unilaterally terminated the CMATS between the two countries2.

 Timor-Leste, a small "half-island" state in Southeast Asia, regained its independence in May 2002 and its economy remains almost completely dependent on revenues from the Timor Sea oil and gas concessions entirely located in the Timor Sea. These concessions are regulated by a set of complex treaties and agreements entered into between both Governments, in particular the Timor Sea Treaty of 20 May 20023, which established the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) and the above-mentioned CMATS.

The CMATS is designed to facilitate oil and gas operations outside the JPDA. For the Greater Sunrise field, of which 80% is located outside the JPDA, it establishes a share revenue of 50 per cent between the two countries. In contrast, the Timor Sea Treaty grants to Timor-Leste 90 per cent of the upstream revenues from petroleum fields within the JPDA.

These treaties are linked to the Australia- Timorese dispute on maritime boundaries. This dispute has been pending since 1972 when Portugal, the former colonial power, and Australia failed to reach an agreement on this matter. Instead the two countries established a moratorium (Article 4) on both countries on pursuing, in relation to the other party, their claims to sovereign rights and jurisdiction and maritime boundaries for the period of the Timor Sea Treaty, that is, 50 years.

 However, the CMATS did establish a very significant amendment to the Timor Sea Treaty, by determining in its Article 12 that:

"2. If:

  1. a development plan for the Unit Area has not been approved in accordance with paragraph 1 of Article 12 of the Sunrise IUA4 within six years after the date of entry into force of this Treaty; or
  2. production of petroleum from the Unit Area has not commenced within ten years after the date of entry into force of this Treaty;

Either Party may notify the other Party in writing that it wishes to terminate this Treaty, in which case the Treaty shall cease to be in force three calendar months after such notice is given."

Although the two parties engaged in negotiations for several years, an agreement for such development plan for the Unit Area had not been reached by February 2013. By then, neither of the countries was able to terminate the set of Treaties, since, pursuant to Article 22 of the Timor Sea Treaty, as amended by CMATS, the Timor Sea Treaty will remain in force for the duration of the CMATS.

This importance stems from the fact that the country's oil and gas income peaked in 2012 and continues to fall, and that the output of the Bayu-Undan project, Timor-Leste's only oil-producing field, is expected to stop on or before 2022.

The approximation of Timor-Leste and Australia's positions that we are witnessing is an important and positive step, not only for the bilateral relations but also for the oil and gas industry and the Timorese economic and financial forecasts. An agreement on the Greater Sunrise fields still seems distant at this stage and Woodside – in partnership with ConocoPhillips, Shell and Osaka Gas – plans currently appear to be on hold.

The existing agreements and granting instruments in place are likely to be unaffected by this recent move and the ongoing discussions and negotiations. However, Timor-Leste and the JPDA are clearly under the scrutiny of the players that a have a presence there and those that could be looking at the opportunity to replace any of them or join the parade.

Footnotes

1 The Trilateral Joint Statement is available at https:// pca-cpa.org/en/news/trilateral-joint-statement-pca-case-no-2016-10-conciliation-proceedings-between-the-government-of-the-democratic-republic-of-timor-leste-and-the-government-of-the-commonwealth-of-australia/.

2 Without prejudice to the Government powers to negotiate international treaties, the competence to legislate on the country's borders, including the limits of the territorial waters, of the exclusive economic area and the rights of Timor-Leste to the adjacent area and the continental shelf and the powers to approve and denounce agreements and ratify international treaties and conventions are, under article 95 number 2 paragraphs a) and b) and number 3 paragraph f of the Constitution, exclusive competences of the National Parliament.

 3 Available at http://www.anpm.tl/jpda2/.

4 The Agreement between the Governments of Australia and Timor-Leste relating to the Unitisation of the Sunrise and Troubador Fields of 6 March 2003.

5 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.