On 20 September 2019, H.E. Sontirat Sontijirawong, Minister of Energy of Thailand, and YB Dato’ Seri Mohamad Azmin Ali, Minister of Economic Affairs of Malaysia, presided over a gala dinner at Siam Kempinski Hotel, Bangkok, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the signing of the MoU between Malaysia and Thailand on the Establishment of a Joint Authority for the Exploitation of the Resources of the Sea-bed in a Defined Area of the Continental Shelf of the Two Countries in the Gulf of Thailand.
Malaysia and Thailand signed the MOU in 1979 to jointly explore and exploit oil and gas in a disputed offshore zone in the Gulf of Thailand. Called the Joint Development Area or JDA, the zone is located off Malaysia's Kelantan state and Thailand's southernmost provinces of Narathiwat and Pattani.
Being one of the world’s first to implement this unique model of international cooperation, the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Authority (MTJA) was established in 1990 as a statutory body under the laws of Malaysia and Thailand to assume all rights and responsibilities in the JDA on behalf of the two governments.
This sharing of resources was once described by Tun Hussien Onn, the third Prime Minister of Malaysia, as being like “two brothers drinking from the same well”. It stands as a testimony to the use of functional cooperation in the absence of agreed maritime boundary.
In conjunction with its 40th anniversary, MTJA will provide an endowment of USD 4 million, USD 2 million to each government, to support research and development in petroleum activities in the JDA.