The 1979 and 1990 Malaysia—Thailand Joint Development Agreements: A Model for International Legal Co-operation in Common Offshore Petroleum Deposits?

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Offshore petroleum deposits straddling delimited or claimed maritime boundaries increasingly lead to bilateral joint development agreements between coastal states purporting to resolve the international and domestic legal issues raised by such situations. This article will examine one of the lesser known but arguably more successful of these joint development agreements in recent times, namely, the 1990 Agreement between Malaysia and Thailand on the establishment of the Malaysia—Thailand Joint Authority. The background to and negotiating process of the Agreement and the legal regime thus instituted will be examined. The article also considers the impact of this and other bilateral joint development precedents upon the possible development of a general or regional customary rule of international law requiring states to enter into joint development arrangements when confronted by similar situations.

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