Earlier this year Australia and East Timor negotiated a revenue sharing agreement for the Greater Sunrise gas project although both countries are yet to ratify the deal. If the Labor party restarts negotiations it is possible that the deal will be reviewed or that both countries could delay ratifying the agreement.
Now foreign minister Alexander Downer, East Timorese officials and the project operator Woodside are worried about the future of the $5 billion project with Woodside claiming the project partners would have to abandon development plans if the agreement is not ratified by the end of this year.
The agreement is the one bright spot in the protracted boundary negotiations between the two country’s with East Timor claiming the present system has no validity as it was negotiated with Indonesia.
East Timor wants the boundary to be moved back to a mid-point in the Timor Sea while Australia claims the boundary should be located 200km off its continental shelf. At stake are around $12 billion worth of oil and gas resources, which would make a substantial difference to the rebuilding process of the poverty stricken East Timor.