Guyana and Venezuela complained to the United Nations (UN) about alleged incursions into their maritime territory offshore Essequibo, but they provided different locations and the number of vessels, according to the neighbouring countries’ foreign ministries.
While Venezuela claimed that the vessels were clearly in its waters where it has “unquestionable sovereignty,” the United States (US) made it clear that it was backing Guyana. In an unprecedented statement, the US State Department objected to Venezuela’s military actions against the vessels contracted by American oil giant, ExxonMobil, from the Norwegian company Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) to gather seismic data.
“We underscore that Guyana has the sovereign right to explore and exploit resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone. We call on Venezuela to respect international law and the rights of its neighbors,” US State Department spokesman, Robert Palladino said.
A day after Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Carl Greenidge issued a statement pointing out that the seismic research vessel, saying The Bahamas-flagged Ramform Tethys, was intercepted by the Venezuelan navy at 10.30 hours on Saturday December 22, 2018 in Guyana’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
The incident, according to Guyana, occurred at a position of N 09 deg 17.19 min / W 058 deg 16.20 min at about 140 kilometres from the nearest point to the provisional equidistant line with Venezuela.
However, Venezuela on Sunday said there were two vessels- the Ramfor Tethys which was located at 09° 17′ 4″ North, 058°15′ 7″ West and the Trinidad and Tobago-flagged Delta Monarch that was located at 058° 17′ 3″ West.
Venezuela stressed that the vessels were “within the Orinoco River Delta maritime waters, over which Venezuela undoubtedly has unquestionable sovereignty.”
The Norwegian company, Petro Geo-Services (PGS) never stated a second vessel -Delta Monarch- was deployed to conduct seismic data gathering. PGS said Saturday that the Venezuelan Navy has since exited the area.
The Ranform Tethys, was contracted to conduct seismic work by Exxon Mobil and had a total of seventy crew members on board including the captain. While GuyaneThe ese officials have said the Venezuelan Navy had attempted to land on the Ranform Tethys, Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said action was taken against the vessels.
“In view of this flagrant violation of sovereignty, the proper international protocols for this type of events were applied and national sovereignty was safeguarded with strict abidance by the international agreements and treaties,” Venezuela said.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said the captains of the vessels argued that they were in the area because Guyana had granted permission for them to operate in that maritime space. “The Venezuelan Navy authorities proceeded to inform them that said country has no jurisdiction over the maritime area of the Orinoco River Delta, and therefore, they stopped their activities and navigated into the waters of the vast” Essequibo Region waters.
Venezuela said it has since lodged a complaint with the United Nations Secretary General and dispatched a strongly worded protest note to Guyana. “with regard to this unacceptable violation of the national sovereignty of Venezuela”.
Venezuela added that the vessels, which were contracted by ExxonMobil, had trespassed all limits with this unprecedented incursion as it was intended to dispose of maritime spaces of Delta Amacuro, over which Venezuela has undisputed sovereignty.
Guyana also planned to send similar correspondence to Venezuela and the United Nations. :The Government of Guyana rejects this illegal, aggressive and hostile act perpetrated by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela which once again demonstrates the real threat to Guyana’s economic development by its western neighbor; an act that violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country.