Australia & East Timor Extend Timor Sea Agreement

The existing arrangements for the Timor Sea Designated Authority will continue for a further 12 months, following a request for the extension from East Timor under the provisions of the Timor Sea Treaty.

The 12 month extension has been agreed to allow exploration and development of the area to continue under the existing joint management arrangements between East Timor and Australia.

"Operators are advised that the administrative arrangements in place in the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) to date will continue to apply until 2 April 2007," said Australian Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane.

"The agreement provides Australian resources companies operating in the JPDA with certainty that the rules are not changing and that the administrative arrangements applying to the Designated Authority will continue as is," he said.

The JPDA is managed jointly by Australia and East Timor under the terms established by the Timor Sea Treaty 2003.

The Treaty established a three-tiered joint administrative structure consisting of a Ministerial Council, a Joint Commission and a Designated Authority.

Mr Macfarlane is the Australian representative on the Ministerial Council. East Timor's Prime Minister Alkatiri represents East Timor on the Council, in his capacity as East Timor's Minister with responsibility for resources issues.

"While the role of the Joint Commission will continue into the immediate future, this extension is to allow East Timor the time it requires to resolve issues related to the transfer of the Designated Authority to the Government of East Timor," he said.

The Joint Commission consists of three Commissioners, two of whom are appointed by East Timor and one by Australia. The Joint Commission oversees the work of the Designated Authority.

"The Joint Commission provides Australia and East Timor with the ability to take an active role in the management and regulation of the JPDA, consistent with our rights and responsibilities under the Timor Sea Treaty," said Mr Macfarlane.

"The role of the Designated Authority is to administer the JPDA on behalf of the Governments of Australia and East Timor."