New Straits Times
Malaysia, Thailand look to extend cooperation in joint development area
BANGKOK: Malaysia and Thailand may seek to continue their cooperation in the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area (MTJDA) as they eye more than US$10 billion (RM41.3 billion) in combined income.
Thai Energy Minister Sonthirat Sonthi-Jirawong said the country was hopeful of extending the cooperation, which is into the final decade, since a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed 40 years ago.
“When the contract expires in 2029, both countries believe there will be continued cooperation in this area,” he told the
New Straits Times at the 40th anniversary celebration of the cooperation, here, recently.
In 1979, Thailand and Malaysia formed a joint organisation to seek benefits from seabed resources in an area previously disputed by both countries.
The Malaysia-Thailand Joint Authority (MTJA) was then formed to explore non-living natural resources in MTJDA for 50 years.
Located offshore 150km from Kota Baru and 260km from Songkhla, Thailand, the MTJDA is about 7.25 square kilometres.
Since the first production of natural gas from MTJDA in 2005, MTJA had remitted a combined cumulative income of US$10 billion, with US$5 billion going to each government.
“We hope both countries could get higher income from this cooperation,” said Sonthirat.
MTJA Thai co-chairman Dr Kurujit Nakornthap said there was still a high volume of natural gas that would last about 20 years.
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said MTJA would provide an endowment of US$2 million for each government to support research and development in petroleum activities in MTJDA.
“We trust that both countries will continue the legacy of MTJA,” he said.