East Timor Catholics protest sea deal with Australia

The Dioceses of Dili and Baucau and 12 NGO's from East Timor have protested over the agreement signed yesterday, between East Timor and Australia over the exploitation of oil and gas from a disputed area of the Timor Sea.

Independent Catholic News reports that in a communiqué signed by the directors of the Justice and Peace Commissions of the two dioceses and of the coordinator of the Centre for Information on the Sea of Timor, to which the 12 NGO's belong, it is stated that the maritime frontier with Australia should have been established first, and only then, should the exploration of resources have begun.

The deal signed yesterday by Australia and East Timor sees the countries delay for 50 years a decision on a permanent maritime boundary in the Timor Sea and ensures a 50:50 royalty split from the Greater Sunrise energy field.

The Church/NGO document says the revenues currently deriving from the exploration are sufficient for the needs of the small territory of East Timor. They also note that oil and gas are non-renewable resources, and in the next few years their prices might be subject to variation on international markets.

On Wednesday, however, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri left for Sydney where he joined John Howard for the signing of the document. It is widely believed the agreement will give Canberra a greater share of revenues extracted from oil and gas (perhaps 50%) in exchange for Dili's consent to definitively mark the maritime borders.

East Timor: Church joins protest against Australian sea mining plan (Independent Catholic News/MISNA 12/1/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Save East Timor (Edmund Rice Centre for Justice & Community Education)
Timor Sea Justice Campaign
Mary MacKillop Institute for East Timor
Government of East Timor

Bishops call for generosity in Timor Sea talks (CathNews 13/5/05)
Bishop heads community leaders' delegation on Timor boundary (CathNews 8/3/05)
Council urges Govt to 'come to table' on Timor Sea (CathNews 21/12/04)
Jesuit says 100% of revenue to East Timor would be fair (CathNews 3/9/04)
Nun challenges media mischief on Timor oil (CathNews 6/8/04)
Christian Brothers leader writes to PM on Timor Sea oil (CathNews 20/5/04)
Josephite support for Timor Sea boundary rethink (CathNews 13/5/04)

Australia and East Timor reach agreement on oil field (ABC Radio AM 12/1/06)
Australia, E Timor sign resource treaty (ABC News 12/1/06)
Church and civil society criticize resource accord with Australia (Missionary Service News Agency 11/1/06)
Treaty to pump $25bn to E Timor (The Australian 13/1/06)
Timor deal finally done (The Age/AAP 13/1/06)

13 Jan 2006