4 May 2013

East Timor at odds with Australia over gasfield

9:45 pm on 4 May 2013

East Timor is seeking to tear up a treaty with Australia on oil and gas revenues in the Timor Sea, arguing Australia spied on it during negotiations in 2004.

The Australian government says neither East Timor's claims about the treaty nor its allegations of espionage are new and the treaty remains in force.

Attorney-general Mark Dreyfus says East Timor recently notified the Australian government that it was launching a process of arbitration and wants the treaty declared invalid

"Timor Leste notified Australia on April 23 that it has initiated arbitration under the 2002 Timor Sea treaty of a dispute that relates to the 2006 treaty on certain maritime arrangements in the Timor Sea," he says.

The treaty is used to split revenue from the lucrative Greater Sunrise gasfield in the Timor Sea.

East Timor has been in a long-running dispute with Australia and the Australian-based company Woodside about how the field will be developed.