Posted Monday June 13, 2016 by admin

Near Suai on East Timor’s south coast, a rusty old oil pump sits near a beach, some mangroves and the ruins of an old prison from the Portuguese era. It’s not good for much, but it hints at the country’s oil and gas wealth potential.

East Timor is now spending US$2.1bn (£1.45bn) on roads, airport facilities and a supply base for offshore rigs along the south coast, with private investors expected to tip more in for refining facilities.

It is an attempt to grab a bigger slice of the country’s oil and gas wealth, an ambitious project that the government hopes will transform the country’s economy.

But its success might depend on solving an acrimonious dispute with its neighbour Australia over the maritime boundaries between the two countries. And as the dispute drags on, East Timor could be staring down the barrel of a crippling cash crunch.

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This article first appeared on 13 June 2015. Written by Tim McDonald.