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Guyana tells Venezuela: Hands off oil exploration plans

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Guyana has told Venezuela to keep its hands off its English-speaking neighbour’s offshore oil exploration efforts, in the wake of objections by Caracas to a rig that is about to be dispatched to a concession by American oil giant, Exxon Mobil.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela desist from taking any actions that could only result in the stymying of the development of Guyana and its people and that would be in contravention of international law,” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.

The company plans to invest US$200 million in drilling offshore Guyana in the Liza field, which part of the Stabroek Block. An oil rig, Deep Water Champion, has already left the United States for Guyana where it would begin work in mid-March.

Guyana says it has since informed the 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom), Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Organisation of American States, the Commonwealth and the United Nations Secretary General “about this recent action by Venezuela.”

This threat against Exxon is reminiscent of the Venezuelan Navy’s detention of a seismic research vessel, Teknik Perdana, in September 2013 in waters offshore Essequibo that both countries claim as theirs. The vessel had been contracted by a Texas, United States-based company, Anadarko Petroleum, to survey the seabed offshore Essequibo Region for oil.

Guyana maintains that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award has fully and finally settled the borders between the two countries, but the matter has been referred to the United Nations Secretary General to explore ways of finding a peaceful settlement.

Following is a statement by the Foreign Ministry issued Saturday night.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that consequent upon a communication being sent from the Venezuelan Foreign Minister to the Country Manager of Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited objecting to the despatch of a rig to proceed with the exploration of an oil well in the concession granted by the Government of Guyana, the Government of Guyana has despatched a Note Verbale to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela desist from taking any actions that could only result in the stymying of the development of Guyana and its people and that would be in contravention of international law.

The Ministry has also informed CARICOM, UNASUR, the OAS, the Commonwealth as well as the United Nations Secretary General about this recent action by Venezuela.