E Timor approves Aust oil deal
East Timor's Parliament has finally agreed to ratify an agreement with Australia over the management of oil and gas resources in the Greater Sunrise field in the Timor Sea.
The country's Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, has welcomed the agreement's approval after a year of parliamentary debate.
"With this agreement, large investors such as Woodside, can start to invest in the Greater Sunrise to manage oil and gas," Dr Ramos-Horta said.
Woodside Petroleum, which operates the Greater Sunrise field, froze the multi-million-dollar project in 2004 as negotiations between Australia and East Timor dragged on.
Under the accord, Australia and East Timor will split the royalties from the field 50-50.
But Dr Ramos-Horta has conceded that many technical details remain to be settled before such investment can actually take place, such as the pipeline from the field.
Forty-eight parliamentarians voted in favour of ratifying the deal, five voted against and three abstained.
It is estimated the Greater Sunrise field could deliver $10 billion to impoverished East Timor over 20 years.
The Greater Sunrise deposit straddles the eastern lateral boundary of the Joint Petroleum Development Area, an area agreed for development by both countries in the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty.
It is estimated to have deposits worth more than $27 billion over the project's life.