La’o Hamutuk

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This tiny company, a division of Oceanic Exploration and General Atomics, has provided important analysis and commentary on the issues relating to the Timor Sea.

La’o Hamutuk has written two profiles of the company, whose claims in the Timor Sea date from the Portuguese era in East Timor.

In August 2001, Petrotimor filed a suit in Australia, seeking one billion dollars for the loss of petroleum rights in the Timor Sea. On 3 February 2003, the Federal Court denied their case on jurisdictional grounds. 

Petrotimor Sues ConocoPhillips in Washington

In March 2004, Petrotimor filed suit in United States federal District Court in Washington, DC. List of attorneys, docket.

They ask for US$10 billion damages, trebled to $30 billion under U.S. laws against racketeering and corruption, and allege that ConocoPhillips bribed East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and Fretilin members of Parliament to secure the Timor Sea Treaty and a favorable tax regime. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers immediately denied the allegations.

The claim was amended in May 2004 and again in March 2005, dropping some of the allegations and adding others. The defendants, including the TSDA, again moved that the complaint be dismissed, for these reasons. ConocoPhillips has also made many arguments for dismissal.

Like all U.S. corporations, Petrotimor is required to file regular reports with the U.S. government about their finances and activities. Their report for the third quarter of 2005 shows that this lawsuit is the major portion of their business.

In September 2006, the judge dismissed the case (explanation) against the TSDA and subsidiaries of ConocoPhillips, but allowed it to proceed against the parent ConocoPhillips company, with many motions described in the court docket. ConocoPhillips filed its first answer to the substantive allegations in October 2006. The case was moved to Texas in 2007, with a new docket. In 2008, the Court rejected the claim, and Petrotimor's appeal was rejected by a higher court the following year.

More and newer information is available on La'o Hamutuk's website and about the Texas court's decision against them in 2008 and the 2009 rejection of Petrotimor's appeal.

Documents distributed by Petrotimor in 2002


On 23 March 2002, the company organized a seminar in Dili, which included the following presentations:


Oceanic Exploration background and maps (by Karsten Blue of Petrotimor)


Impact of an Exclusive Economic Zone delimitation on East Timor’s petroleum revenue (by petroleum engineer Geoffrey McKee). Also supplementary presentation on methodology and tax rates.


LNG business and deepwater pipeline technology (by former UNOCAL Chairman John Imle)

Subsequently, the company commissioned a detailed study on East Timor's EEZ boundary rights by eminent international legal scholars Carleton, Lowe, and Ward. PDF  Map.

The Company also commissioned a preliminary study evaluating the option of a pipeline from Sunrise to East Timor.

After the Timor Sea Treaty was signed, Petrotimor wrote a letter to East Timor's parliament suggesting a strategy for delimiting maritime boundaries. The company also provided a legal opinion on the treaty from barrister Christopher Ward.

Submission to Australian Parliament on Timor Sea Treaty

Response to Patrick Brazil Submission

The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua D. Alberto Ricardo, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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