East Timor sees Australia oil pact in 2 months

Ulhas Joglekar uvj at vsnl.com
Thu May 24 11:57:59 MDT 2001


Sunday
20 May 2001

East Timor sees Australia oil pact in 2 months
UNITED NATIONS: East Timor hopes to sign a revenue sharing agreement with
Australia for oil and natural gas production in the Timor Sea within two
months, a senior East Timorese official said on Friday.
"We believe it is in our common interest to reach an agreement sooner for
the benefit of the Northern Territory of Australia and in particular for the
people of East Timor that need more of those revenues," Nobel Peace Prize
winner Jose Ramos Horta told the U.N. Security Council in New York.
East Timor stands to earn hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues
annually from energy production in a 75,000-square-kilometer
(29,250-square-mile) area in the Timor Sea. Representatives from Australia
and East Timor have been negotiating splitting the revenue.
Australia has reportedly offered an 85 percent share of revenues to East
Timor, while East Timor is pressing for 90 percent.
Energy companies operating in the area have expressed concerns about a lack
of progress in the negotiations, saying it could delay or stop billion of
dollars in investments.
The agreement will "enable investors to begin to lay down the construction
for pipelines to bring the gas from the Timor Sea to Australia's Northern
Territory," said Ramos Horta, who is East Timor's Cabinet member for foreign
affairs.
The next round of talks is scheduled in Dili, the East Timor capital, later
this month when "work will begin on drafting the text of the treaty,"
Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hedi Annabi told the council.
Ramos Horta met with Secretary of State Colin Powell earlier this week and
asked for U.S. assistance in developing the territory's economy and legal
system. On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a foreign
relations authorization act which includes funds to support reconstruction
in East Timor.
The U.N. has governed the territory since a 1999 vote for independence from
Indonesia, which invaded and occupied East Timor in 1975. East Timor remains
under U.N. administration and elections for an 88-member constituent
assembly are scheduled for August. The assembly is expected to become East
Timor's first elected parliament when independence is formalized next year.
(AP)
 For reprint rights:Times Syndication Service






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