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Signed by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Timor-Leste Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister for the Delimitation of Borders, Hermenegildo Augusto Cabral Pereira, at the UN headquarters in NY in the presence of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the pact marks the successful conclusion of the first recourse to conciliation proceedings under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The treaty was brokered by the Conciliation Commission established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). "Our treaty reflects the value and importance of those rules and institutions and the benefits for states in abiding by those rules", she said. East Timor, which is one of the world's poorest countries, was dependent on oil and gas for most of its revenue past year.

Access to the gas fields could generate significant revenue for Indonesia, Professor Rothwell said.

East Timor, with a population of 1.3 million, is among the poorest countries in the world.

Bishop said that under the treaty, revenue from exploiting the sea's natural resources will be split either 80-20 or 70-30, with the lions share going to impoverished East Timor.

"We believe seriously that a successful pipeline to the south coast of Timor would be a game changer and have a transformational impact on the socio-economic status of the country", he said.

Australia began negotiating a border with Indonesia after the Indonesian military's brutal 24-year occupation of East Timor began in 1975.

Given that the new maritime boundary agreement is drawn along the median line between Australia and Timor-Leste, the Indonesian Government may soon start weighing up the options in regard to its own boundary with Australia.

East Timor's Deputy Prime Minister Agio Pereira said both nations would now press on with talks about developing Greater Sunrise. The country's $16 billion (€13.8 billion) sovereign wealth fund is estimated to be empty within 10 years.

The agreement will see a partition created halfway between the countries, rather than along the continental shelf as Australia had originally proposed, meaning that a much more substantial proportion of Greater Sunrise will fall into Timor-Leste's territory.

Australia and East Timor signed a 2006 treaty on sharing future Greater Sunrise revenue. They also accused Canberra of bugging government offices in the capital, Dili, to achieve an unfair negotiation advantage.

It is hoped the deal, signed at the United Nations in NY, will end the bitter dispute over oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea. Canberra denied the allegation.

"Australia has an enduring interest in a stable and prosperous Timor-Leste. we want Timor-Leste to achieve its economic potential", she said.