The Role and Impact of Oil in the East Timor Region


  • Roland Gerber Università della Svizzera italiana


East Timor, Timor-Leste, oil resources, oil production, socio-economic impact, environmental concerns, renewable energy


The East Timor region, encompassing Timor-Leste and adjacent territories, has been marked by the presence of significant oil resources, exerting profound influences on regional politics, economics, and societal dynamics. This paper delves into the historical backdrop, contemporary status, and prospective trajectories of oil within the East Timor region. Through an intricate analysis, it scrutinizes the multifaceted challenges and opportunities intertwined with oil extraction, production, and distribution, illuminating the socio-economic ramifications for local communities and the broader geopolitical framework. The historical narrative of oil exploration and exploitation in the East Timor region traces back to the colonial era, characterized by limited endeavors during Portuguese rule. However, the Indonesian annexation of East Timor in 1975 marked a pivotal juncture, igniting disputes over oil rights amidst resistance movements. Subsequent to the independence referendum in 1999, the issue of oil resources gained international prominence, culminating in Timor-Leste's independence in 2002 and subsequent negotiations with Australia over maritime boundaries and resource allocations in the Timor Sea. Oil production stands as a cornerstone of Timor-Leste's economy, furnishing the lion's share of government revenue. Key oil fields such as Bayu-Undan and Greater Sunrise serve as primary sources, yet the equitable distribution of oil revenue remains contentious, fueling protracted negotiations and legal battles between Timor-Leste and Australia. Despite its oil wealth, Timor-Leste confronts challenges in fostering economic diversification, grappling with overreliance on oil revenues and susceptibility to global market fluctuations. Endeavors to establish a sovereign wealth fund and bolster investments in infrastructure and human capital are underway to mitigate risks and foster long-term economic resilience.


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How to Cite

Roland Gerber. (2024). The Role and Impact of Oil in the East Timor Region. ENDLESS: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF FUTURE STUDIES, 7(1), 65–72. Retrieved from