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Guyana takes united stand against Venezuela’s attempt to scare investors from new oil blocks

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 September 2023, 20:15 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana government and the parliamentary opposition Tuesday strongly rebuffed Venezuela’s attempt to scare investors who have bid for eight offshore oil blocks by claiming ownership to those areas.

Reacting sharply to Venezuela’s strong rejection to Guyana’s “illegal bidding round” for oil blocks on the basis that Georgetown does not enjoy sovereignty over that area, President Irfaan Ali warned that Caracas risked violating the 1966 Geneva Agreement which provides options for addressing Venezuela’s claim to the mineral and forest-rich Essequibo Region and the maritime area.

“The Government of Guyana reserves the right to pursue economic development activities in any portion of its sovereign territory or any appurtenant maritime territories. Any unilateral attempt by Venezuela to restrict the exercise by Guyana of its sovereignty and sovereign rights will be wholly inconsistent with the Geneva Agreement and the rule of international law,” according to President Ali in response to Venezuela’s communique.

Shadow Foreign Minister Amanza Walton-Desir said the opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change backed the Guyana government’s position.

“The APNU+AFC Parliamentary Opposition supports the position taken by the Government of Guyana in response to the latest attempt by Venezuela to undermine our sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We affirm that it is the right of the Government of Guyana to pursue economic activities in any portion of its sovereign territory or any appurtenant maritime territories, for the benefit of the people of Guyana,” she said in a statement issued Tuesday night.

Shallow water blocks S3, S4, S5 and parts of S7 and S9 are directly offshore Essequibo while the others are offshore Demerara and Berbice.

Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry earlier Tuesday said Guyana’s bid round for oil blocks in those maritime areas violates international law “as long as they are not carried out through an agreement with Venezuela.”

Venezuela further cautioned investors that it would not recognise their presence in those areas as legitimate. “The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates that any illicit and arbitrary concession that Guyana grants, has granted or intends to grant in the areas in question is unacceptable and violates its sovereign rights, and warns that these actions do not generate any type of rights for third parties  to participate in this process,” the Foreign Ministry in Caracas said.

This is not the first time that Venezuela has sought to drive investor fears in companies that have invested in large scale gold mines in Essequibo as well as oil exploration and production. Despite those efforts, those companies have continued their work uninhibited.

Exceptions had been the interception and seizure of a Malaysian seismic research vessel, Teknik Perdana, in 2015 while working for the American company, Anadarko, in the Roraima block and the 2018 interception and subsequent release of the seismic research vessel, Ramform Tethys vessel, which belongs to Norwegian company Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS), that had been working for ExxonMobil in the prolific Stabroek Block.

Others included objections to the construction of the Upper Mazaruni Hydro-electricity Project that had led to a loss of financing, the Beal Aerospace Project and failed claim for spectrum for technical/satellite purposes over the Essequibo Region.

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September 2023