Gulf of Thailand agreement with Malaysia and Thailand is "model for others"

Oct 31, 1999 02:00 AM

Malaysia and Thailand have described a joint project to produce gas in a disputed territory off the Gulf of Thailand as an impressive feat and a model for others to follow. "This is a landmark agreement because this is the first time two neighbouring countries with an overlapping claim over an area of sea have agreed to cooperate jointly and share resources," Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told.
"It is a good moment for future relations of both countries." Thai premier Chuan Leekpai suggested the gas sales agreement was a blueprint for exploiting the mineral resources believed to lie below the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. "The agreement is a model for the international community to resolve territorial disputes in a practical and beneficial manner," said Chuan in an apparent reference to the Spratlys. "This is a good moment for us to celebrate," he said, after the two leaders witnessed the signing of the deal.
The operator of the gas facility is the Malaysian-Thailand Joint Authority, responsible for managing upstream activities in the disputed Joint Development Authority area. Malaysia and Thailand agreed in 1979 to jointly exploit resources in the area, 250 km (156 miles) east of Songkhla in southern Thailand, while shelving negotiations over territorial claims.Under the gas sales agreement, Malaysian oil giant Petroliam Nasional Bhd. (Petronas) and the state-run Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) will jointly buy natural gas from the Malaysian-Thailand Joint Authority.
"The signing of the agreements marks the culmination of efforts by the Malaysian and Thai governments to jointly develop the hydrocarbon resources in the overlapping areas and paves the way for the biggest joint venture between the two neighbouring countries," Petronas said in a statement. "More importantly, the signing of the agreements stands as a testimony to the success of the unique model of bilateral and regional co-operation based on a win-win concept... in resolving territorial disputes."

The Spratlys archipelago is viewed by analysts as one of the region's potential military flashpoints, along with the Korean peninsula, the Indian sub-continent and the Taiwan Strait. China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim the entire chain of about 200 barren islets and partially submerged features sprayed across 150,000 square miles of water. They base their claims on historical grounds. Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines claim only some parts of the Spratlys, based on proximity and other reasons.

Source: Asia Pulse via Iinoil
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