After a long and difficult history, on 6 March 2018, Timor-Leste and Australia signed their new Treaty Establishing Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea. The treaty delimits, for the first time, the permanent maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea between Timor-Leste and Australia, and establishes a special regime for the development of the Greater Sunrise gas fields. Signing of the treaty marks the culmination of the conciliation proceedings between Timor-Leste and Australia, facilitated by a conciliation commission under the administration of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.The conciliation process was the first to occur under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
In this Insight, we analyse the new permanent maritime boundaries between Timor-Leste and Australia agreed under the treaty, and the unresolved question of whether gas from Greater Sunrise will be processed in Beaco or Darwin. In particular, we consider the key implications for both Timor-Leste and Australia arising from the treaty, including Australia’s strategic and foreign policy interests in the Asia Pacific region, energy security and Timor-Leste and Australia's relationship going forward.