Subject: LUSA: Gov't readying oil, natural resources legislative package

East Timor: Gov't readying oil, natural resources legislative package

Dili, June 4 (Lusa) - The East Timorese government is drafting legislation for its oil and natural gas sector and will present the bill to parliament in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said Friday.

In comments to Lusa, Alkatiri said the bill, dubbed the Petroleum and Natural Resources Law, would create the legal framework for the sale of exploration licenses through international tenders to foreign and national companies.

East Timor is embroiled in a dispute and negotiations with Australia over the demarcation of their maritime border in the oil- and gas-rich Sea of Timor.

Dili has charged Canberra with seeking to drag out the negotiations, which began in April, and of unlawfully selling operating licenses for offshore areas under dispute that have allegedly rendered Australia's coffers USD 1.5 billion, or about euros 1.2 billion.

Alkatiri was scheduled to address the annual meeting of the Southeast Asia-Australia Offshore Conference (SEAAOC) in Australia early next week.

He was expected to use the forum to underline the pivotal importance of oil and gas revenues to East Timor's future development.


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