Venezuela’s navy Thursday afternoon seized and arrested a research vessel that was surveying for oil in the Roraima Block offshore Guyana, prompting Georgetown to immediately demand its release.
“The Government of Guyana has expressed to the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela its grave concern about the incident involving the RV Teknik Perdana and has requested the immediate release of the vessel and its crew,” states the Foreign Ministry in a statement issued on Friday.
The Guyana government said it was of the firm belief that the actions taken by the Venezuelan navy vessel constitute a serious threat to the peace of this sub-region and the Government of Guyana therefore strongly condemns these actions.
The Foreign Ministry said it was informed that at approximately 16:00 hrs on Thursday 10th October, 2013 a Venezuelan armed naval vessel, the “Yekuana”, was trailing the seismic vessel, the RV Teknik Perdana which is under contract with Anadarko.
The remainder of the Foreign Ministry’s statement reads:
“The naval vessel obstructed the research vessel’s passage, requested them to change course and stop surveying. As is known, Anadarko has a petroleum prospecting licence to search for hydrocarbons in the Roraima block offshore Guyana.
The crew of the RV Teknik Perdana explained to the crew of the Venezuelan vessel that they were conducting a multi-beam survey of the seafloor in Guyana’s exclusive economic zone. The Venezuelan crew insisted that the vessel was doing such work in Venezuela’s exclusive economic zone and instructed that the vessel switch off its engines and shut down its seismic equipment
At about 17:45 hrs the Venezuelan naval vessel ordered the RV Teknik Perdana, which was then located at 10 21.0745 N, 57 31.1057W to travel at 5 knots in a westerly direction. At approximately 20:30 hrs, the crew of the RV Teknik Perdana was instructed to increase speed to 7 knots and was given directions to sail to the island of Margarita in Venezuela. It was then clear that the vessel and its crew were not only being escorted out of Guyana’s waters, but were under arrest. These actions by the Venezuelan naval vessel are unprecedented in Guyana Venezuela relations.
One point is clear and that is that the RV Teknik Perdana was in Guyana’s waters when this incident took place.
The Government of Guyana has expressed to the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela its grave concern about the incident involving the RV Teknik Perdana and has requested the immediate release of the vessel and its crew. Guyana intends to employ all peaceful means to facilitate a prompt return to the status quo ante since neither the Venezuelan naval vessel, the agents of Venezuela, its Government nor any other State has the authority to exercise any action in Guyana’s territorial waters, its continental shelf or its exclusive economic zone without its express consent.
The Government of Guyana is of the firm belief that the actions taken by the Venezuelan navy vessel constitute a serious threat to the peace of this sub-region and the Government of Guyana therefore strongly condemns these actions.
Guyana believes in the peaceful resolution of disagreements amongst States. It is for that reason that Guyana maintains that since the RV Teknik Perdana was merely collecting seismic data, and it will be some time before actual exploration for hydrocarbons could take place, there was and is ample time for Guyana and Venezuela to discuss any differences of view that may exist in relation to the provisional maritime boundary between the two States. Guyana however maintains that the application of the principles of international maritime delimitation will vindicate its position that the RV Teknik Perdana was well within its maritime boundary when it was illegally evicted by the Venezuelan naval vessel. Indeed so is the Roraima concession block.
The Government of Guyana is committed to working with the Venezuelan Government to find a diplomatic solution to this problem which has arisen.”