Subject: LUSA: Australia Readying Concessions on Timor Gap Oil - Dili Official

East Timor: Australia Readying Concessions on Timor Gap Oil - Dili Official 24 Jan-12:47

Australia has given signs it is ready to make concessions in negotiations with East Timor over the sharing of revenues from offshore oil wells in the Timor Gap, Mari Alkatiri, Dili's economic minister, said Wednesday.

On a visit to Jakarta, Alkatiri told Lusa he hoped for significant advances in the next round of Dili-Canberra negotiations, which are expected to take place in Australia next month.

"There are indications from the Australian side that it is prepared to move toward new equations in the sharing of the (oil) wealth. But the numbers have not yet been put on the table", the head of East Timor's negotiating team said.

Other sources told Lusa that Australia could be prepared to accept an 85 percent-15 percent split in Dili's favor, in contrast to the current 50-50 scheme, enshrined in the Timor Gap Treaty which Canberra originally signed with Indonesia in 1989.

More important for Dili than revenue sharing is East Timor's insistence on a redrawing of maritime frontiers in the oil-rich waters separating Timor from Australia, Alkatiri said.

Dili wants the frontier to be equidistant, placing most of the oil wells now operating within its zone, rather than the current division which favors Australia.

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