By Youri Kemp
Caribbean News Now associate editor
CARACAS, Venezuela — Details of exactly where the ExxonMobil survey vessels were intercepted over the Christmas period in the Stabroek block area by the Venezuelan navy have been murky; however evidence provided by Venezuelan vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, shows where the ships were intercepted, which does not seem to be contradicted by the Guyanese government or ExxonMobil.
Rodriguez’s claims appear to be backed up by a supplementary Bloomberg report that suggested that the area subject to an ongoing border dispute was where the ExxonMobil ships were intercepted.
Rodriguez, via Telesur, went on to state that the ships trespassed on waters located within territory under Venezuelan jurisdiction, and over which there is no dispute of any kind, said the vice president, making reference to agreements signed between both nations, and which she said have been unrecognized and violated by the government of David Granger in Guyana, by granting concessions to foreign companies, such as ExxonMobil, for their own interests.
Minister for foreign affairs in Guyana, Carl Greenidge, during his parliamentary submission on the matter last week, claimed that the coordinates identified by ExxonMobil, Guyana and Venezuela were agreed upon up to his parliamentary submission; however the names of the areas have been changed as to create more murk and confusion over the ownership of territory.
The government of Guyana has continually asked the government of Venezuela to take seriously the dispute settlement process to the International Court of Justice, brought on after initial mediation through the Office of the United Nations secretary general, and come back to the table to have this resolved once and for all and particularly over the Stabroek block, the Essequibo and Orinoco basins.
Venezuela bolted from the discussions last year and has maintained that it is entitled to nearly two-thirds of current Guyanese territory conceded in an arbitral settlement between the British government and Venezuela in 1899 – essentially, everything west of the Essequibo River region of Guyana.
ExxonMobil put out a statement that it had resumed its drilling and seismic exercises offshore of Guyana on Monday, but with Greenidge stating last week that Exxon ships have not returned to the spot where they were intercepted. However, it does not mean that they will not return to the area in the future.
Along with ExxonMobil, other companies are working in conjunction with the Guyanese government on oil exploration at the present time.
ExxonMobil owns 45 percent of the Stabroek block, with Hess Corp. at 30 percent and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) at 25 percent. Together they plan to produce at least 750,000 barrels a day by 2025, putting Guyana ahead of OPEC member Ecuador’s current production.
Greenidge also said that Chevron had applied for a licence to drill for oil in Guyana, but he did not go further into details on the Chevron application.