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UpstreamOnline: Malaysia and Brunei keep talking

By Upstream staff

Malaysia and Brunei are still working to resolve a boundary dispute that has held up offshore oil exploration for the past four years, local media said today, contrary to earlier reports suggesting the dispute had been settled.

“The boundary issue is in the process of being resolved through meetings between senior officials from both countries,” Malaysia’s New Straits Times newspaper quoted the country’s Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar as saying during bilateral talks in Brunei.

His comments follow a Reuters report that said officials from both nations had agreed on a proposed settlement of the maritime border dispute and presented it to leaders of both nations.

Sources familiar with the proposed settlement told Reuters yesterday that the leaders were likely to announce the proposal today, but declined to give details, adding that there was a small chance the leaders might ask for changes.

The dispute erupted in 2003 when Malaysia and Brunei awarded production sharing contracts to four overlapping deep-water exploration blocks in the South China Sea.

Malaysian state-run producer Petronas awarded its two blocks to US independent Murphy Oil, while Brunei awarded one of its blocks to France’s Total, BHP Billiton and US-based Hess and the other to Shell, Mitsubishi and ConocoPhillips.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Brunei’s leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, met for annual talks in the Brunei capital on yesterday.

The talks are due to end early today.

http://www.upstreamonline.com/incoming/article138835.ece

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