Abdullah Says Cabinet Approved Boundary Pact With Brunei
KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 (Bernama) -- Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he
signed a land and sea boundary agreement with Brunei in March 2009 in
which two overlapping offshore exploration fields came under Brunei after
it was approved by the Malaysian Cabinet a month earlier.
In a statement on Friday, the former prime minister confirmed that Block L
and Block M concessions now belonged to Brunei but the agreement provided
that Malaysia would be allowed to participate in joint development of oil
and gas on a commercial basis in the two areas for a period of 40 years.
"The financial and operational modalities for giving effect to this
arrangement will be further discussed by the two sides. This means that in
so far as the oil and gas resources are concerned, the agreement is not a
loss for Malaysia," said Abdullah who had visited Bandar Seri Begawan for
a two-day working visit on March 15 and 16 last year before he stepped
down as prime minister two weeks later on April 3.
Abdullah was responding to questions raised by his predecessor, Tun Dr
Mahathir Mohamad, who said Abdullah had surrendered the two blocks in
negotiations with the Sultan of Brunei in exchange for Limbang which
straddles the Sarawak-Brunei border.
Dr Mahathir said the loss of the two blocks cost Malaysia at least US$100
billion dollars (RM320 billion) from an estimated reserves of almost one
billion barrels of oil.
Dr Mahathir also said Brunei had disclaimed that it had agreed to give up
Limbang and Abdullah had made no mention of the two blocks when he
announced that he had settled the Limbang claim.
Last week, United States-based Murphy Oil Corp said Malaysia's Petroliam
Nasional Bhd (Petronas) had terminated the production sharing contracts
for Blocks L and M as they "are no longer a part of Malaysia".
Abdullah, revealing details of the agreement for the first time, said he
had signed the Exchange of Letters with the Sultan of Brunei on March 16
last year in specific steps to finally establish a permanent land and sea
boundary between the two countries.
"In my capacity as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, I signed the Exchange
of Letters with the Sultan of Brunei after the Malaysian Cabinet approved
the deal on 11 February 2009," he said.
The two sides agreed to undertake a joint survey to demarcate the land
boundary in two ways.
Firstly, the joint survey would confirm the ground boundary in five
sectors which had already been established by previous agreements in 1920,
1931, 1933 (two separate agreements) and 1939.
Secondly, in the sectors where there were no agreements yet, the joint
survey shall determine the land boundary on the basis of the watershed
"When the entire land boundary demarcation exercise is completed, there
will be established a final and permanent boundary between Sarawak on the
Malaysian side and Brunei on the other side.
"When this is accomplished, there will no longer be any land boundary
dispute between Brunei and Malaysia as a whole. This long standing issue,
which had existed in the past as an irritant in the relations between
Malaysia and Brunei, will be settled without any disadvantage for
Malaysia," Abdullah said.
On the maritime area, he said the two countries agreed to establish a
final and permanent sea boundary.
"This agreement serves to settle certain overlapping claims which existed
in the past which included the area of the concession blocks known before
as Block L and Block M.
"Sovereign rights to the resources in this area now belongs to Brunei.
However, for this area the agreement includes a commercial arrangement
under which Malaysia will be allowed to participate, on a commercial
basis, to jointly develop the oil and gas resources in this area for a
period of 40 years," he said.
Details of this would be further discussed and thus, in so far as oil and
gas resources, the agreement was not a loss for Malaysia, he added.