Australia’s maritime arrangements with Timor-Leste

The map shows the location of the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) within the Timor Sea between Australia and Timor-Leste. It also marks the 1972 Australia-Indonesia Seabed Boundary and Timor Trough. The Bayu/Undan, Elang and Jahal oil and gas fields lie within the JPDA. The Greater Sunrise Unit Area lies partly within the JPDA and partly in Australian seabed jurisdiction to the east of the JPDA and south of the 1972 Australia-Indonesia Seabed Boundary.
The map shows the location of the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) within the Timor Sea between Australia and Timor-Leste. It also marks the 1972 Australia-Indonesia Seabed Boundary and Timor Trough. The Bayu/Undan, Elang and Jahal oil and gas fields lie within the JPDA. The Greater Sunrise Unit Area lies partly within the JPDA and partly in Australian seabed jurisdiction to the east of the JPDA and south of the 1972 Australia-Indonesia Seabed Boundary.

Australia and Timor-Leste have agreed three treaties to ensure development of the resources of the Timor Sea.  The Timor Sea treaty framework is a provisional arrangement actively encouraged by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and is consistent with international law.

Australia and Timor-Leste agreed to share revenues from the Timor Sea in Timor-Leste’s favour and to put a maritime boundary on hold.

2002 Timor Sea Treaty

  • This treaty established the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) to enable petroleum development in an area claimed by both Australia and Timor-Leste.
  • It apportions 90 per cent of JPDA petroleum to Timor-Leste and 10 per cent to Australia.
  • It established a Joint Commission to oversee management of the resources cooperatively.
  • As a result of joint oil and gas development in the JPDA:
    • Timor-Leste has received US$12.02 billion in revenue (as of April 2016) and accrued a National Petroleum Fund worth US$16.6 billion (as of March 2016)
    • Australia has received US$1.35 billion (as of April 2016).

2003 International Unitisation Agreement for Greater Sunrise

  • This agreement created the framework to develop the Greater Sunrise fields as a single unit.
  • This was necessary because 20.1 per cent of Greater Sunrise lies within the shared JPDA and 79.9 per cent in exclusive Australian seabed jurisdiction.
  • Under the agreement, companies may propose development plans for Greater Sunrise, and the Australian and Timor-Leste Governments are to approve a plan that, amongst other things, develops the Greater Sunrise resources “to the best commercial advantage consistent with good oilfield practice.” To date, no plan has been approved.

2006 Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea 

  • This treaty splits future Greater Sunrise petroleum revenue 50/50 between Australia and Timor-Leste despite nearly 80 per cent being within Australia’s exclusive seabed jurisdiction.
  • It establishes a moratorium on a permanent maritime boundary and on proceedings relating to maritime boundaries for 50 years or five years after exploitation of the Greater Sunrise gas field ceases, whichever occurs earlier.
  • It provides Timor-Leste with water column jurisdiction (for activities such as fishing) within the JPDA.
  • Australia, Timor-Leste and the Conciliation Commission constituted under UNCLOS issued a joint statement on 9 January 2017 announcing Timor-Leste's intention to terminate this treaty. On 10 January 2017 the Government of Timor-Leste notified Australia in writing of its intention to terminate, with all treaty provisions ceasing to be in force three months from that date.

2016 Conciliation between Australia and Timor-Leste

  • In 2016 Timor-Leste commenced conciliation proceedings under Article 298 and Annex V of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to conciliate differences with Australia on maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea.
  • The Conciliation Commission consists of five-members appointed by Australia and Timor-Leste, and is empowered to make recommendations but not to issue legally binding orders. The function of the conciliation is to assist the parties reach a settlement.
  • Australia is engaging in the conciliation process in good faith, consistent with our support for the rules-based international order.
  • Fact sheet: Conciliation between Australia and Timor-Leste [PDF 537 KB] | [DOCX 151 KB]

Transcripts and Decisions of Conciliation Commission

Video Highlights of Australian National Statement to the Conciliation Commission

Media Statements on the Conciliation Commission



Last Updated: 24 January 2017