Subject: RT: Brunei, Philippines eye oil and gas in E.Timor

Thursday January 18, 4:35 PM

Brunei, Philippines eye oil and gas in E.Timor

MANILA, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Brunei and the Philippines have agreed to jointly develop oil and gas resources in East Timor, Philippine Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said on Thursday.

Lotilla said the agreement was made by the three countries on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations summit on Cebu in the central Philippines earlier this month.

He said Manila will ask state-run PNOC Exploration Corp. to represent the country in the agreement.

Other details of the project have yet to be worked out by the three countries, Lotilla said.

"East Timor has one of the richest deposits of oil and gas in the region, and if the country gains an opportunity in exploring and exploiting those resources, then we will be able to help each other," Lotilla told a news conference.

"In the case of Timor Leste, I think their openness is because they want to diversify the countries with which they have partnerships," he added.

Impoverished but resource-rich East Timor gained independence from Indonesia in 2002. The nation of one million people was a Portuguese colony for centuries before it was annexed by Indonesia in 1976.

"Australia and Indonesia, before East Timor became independent, had an agreement on the East Timor gas," Lotilla said.

"This was subsequently renegotiated after East Timor became independent, and now East Timor is receiving something like $100 million a month as their share in the natural gas and I guess this only represents a small portion of East Timor's natural gas and oil resources."

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