East Timor sells its vast oil and gas fields

East Timor's Prime Minister on Friday kicked off the first leg of an international tour to attract oil and gas explorers to the Timor Sea, aimed at tapping the country's vast natural resources and bringing investment to the impoverished economy.

"Timor-Leste is open for business," the young nation's prime minister Mari Alkatiri said, using the country's official name.

"We are indeed applying the same principles of sound management and transparency to the licensing of petroleum development," said Alkatiri, also East Timor's natural resources minister.

The campaign follows recent parliamentary approval of a legal framework for the development of East Timor's onshore and offshore oil and gas resources and the long-term management of its petroleum revenues, according to the AP.

East Timor, which gained independence from Indonesia in May 2002, is banking on the country's fledgling energy industry as its dominant revenue stream.

At the presentation, East Timor's energy officials offered for sale 6,600 kilometers (4,100 miles) of seismic data of the Timor Sea which they said showed the presence of potential petroleum and gas resources.

The data covers an area of 30,000 square kilometers (11,583 sq. miles) from East Timor's southern coast to the Joint Petroleum Development Area, which Dili jointly administers with neighboring Australia.

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