Malaysia and Thailand have shared centuries of cultural, social and historical ties. With the spirit of friendship, mutual goodwill & cooperation, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 1979 between the two Governments on the establishment of a Joint Authority for the exploration and exploitation of the resources of the seabed in a defined area of the overlapping claims of continental shelf of the two countries in the Gulf of Thailand for a period of 50 years. The establishment of the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Authority (MTJA) in 1990 marked yet another milestone to the existing bond of traditional friendship between the two neighbouring countries of ASEAN. With foresight and common vision by leaders of the two nations, the MTJA was created as a statutory body under the laws of Malaysia and Thailand in 1991 to assume all rights and responsibilities on behalf of the two Governments to explore and exploit the non-living natural resources, particularly petroleum, in this overlapping area known as the 'Joint Development Area' (JDA). With the launching of the MTJA, both countries can look forward to realising the development of these resources and share equally the economic benefits from the JDA.
Located offshore approximately 150 kilometers from Kota Bharu and 260 kilometers from Songkhla in the Gulf of Thailand, the area is approximately 7,250 square kilometers in size. Geologically, this overlapping area, situated in the northern part of the prolific Malay Basin, is known for its hydrocarbon potential. The MTJA, with its Head Office located in Kuala Lumpur, is governed by a Board with Members consisting of equal representatives of Malaysian and Thai nationals (7 from each side) as appointed by the respective Governments. Under the supervision of MTJA Board, the MTJA Management consists of staff covering technical, legal and financial aspects of the petroleum business. The MTJA prides itself as being one of the world's first to implement this unique cooperation between two countries. This cooperation has mutually benefitted the people of Malaysia and the Kingdom of Thailand.