October 11, 2021 by eklose
4.52 On 18 September 2000, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Resources Minister Nick Minchin and Attorney General Daryl Williams announced that Australian officials would travel to Dili from 9 October for a three-day first round with representatives of UNTATO and East Timor on rights for future oil exploration and exploitation in the Timor breach. The objective of the discussions is to reach agreement on the replacement of the Timor-Gap Treaty, which should enter into force by accepting the independence of East Timor. “It is expected that there will be several round tables,” they said. “Australia currently has an agreement with UNTAET, which provides for the continued implementation of the terms of the Timor Gap Treaty originally negotiated with Indonesia. It expires on the day East Timor becomes independent. Ministers said it was necessary to avoid a legal vacuum and provide commercial security for the oil industry operating in a vacuum: “The eventual export of oil via pipeline from the Timor Gap to Darwin would bring considerable benefits to Australia`s regional development. It is very important that there be a smooth transition or agreements for oil extraction in the Timor hole. These negotiations are a first step in that direction.  “The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (ONTAET) congratulates the Australian mission in East Timor and welcomes the observation that, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1272 (1999) of 25 October 1999 and in accordance with paragraph 35 of the Secretary-General`s report (S/1999/1024), the United Nations concludes with States and international organizations the international agreements necessary for the exercise. the functions of ONUTOTO in East Timor. 4.32 However, East Timor was not the usual scenario. Indonesia no longer exercised sovereignty. The view was that Portugal should not claim sovereignty, even in the most technical sense of the word, a view shared by Portugal. However, in the absence of a new independent State of East Timor, Australia faced a situation where there was no State with which it could be dealt. With whom, in the absence of such a state, could Australia enter into an agreement to ensure the continued application of the treaty?  However, the critical decision regarding the purpose of the pipeline has not yet been made.
The new agreement means that it is not so much about bilateral negotiations between Australia and Timor-Leste as it is about complex multi-party negotiations between those states and a consortium of oil companies. Since neither party would agree and no agreement could be reached on the borders, the parties reached a provisional agreement under article 83 of the Convention.  In 1985, the parties agreed on the “area of cooperation” that would allow them to share the resources of the Timor fault.  This agreement was formalized on December 11, 1989, when the Timor-Gap Treaty was signed by the Australian and Indonesian Foreign Ministers, Gareth Evans and Ali Alatas, during a flight over the Timor breach.  The Cooperation Area was designated “as the most complex, comprehensive and demanding area of common maritime development ever completed.”  If australia`s understanding is consistent with the above recommendation, ONTAET is honoured to propose that this note and Australia`s confirmation note constitute, in response, an agreement between ONTATO acting on behalf of East Timor and Australia, applicable from 25 October 1999.” .