Guyanese authorities are trying to ascertain why two fuel tankers were refused loading in Venezuela and later told to return to uplift their consignments under the PetroCaribe concessionary oil agreement, according to a senior government official.
“I don’t know that it’s an official decision. I understand yesterday (Thursday) that two vessels had a problem where, at a local level, the vessels were told to leave the jetty but I think by last night (Thursday night) they were able to go back and fuel up,” Minister of State , Joseph Harmon told Demerara Waves Online News.
Harmon said when the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs checked, there was no official decision to halt fuel supplies to Guyana. He suggested that the decision to order the Guyanese vessels to leave the jetty might have been the work of overly enthusiastic persons. “It might very well have been an attempt at a localized level. I can’t say in fact whether there has been anything else since then that basically is official Venezuelan policy or an official Venezuelan decision in that regard,” he said.
The Guyana government is taking comfort in assurances given to PetroCaribe participating countries, including Guyana, that the accord would continue. Finance Minister, Winston Jordan represented Guyana at that meeting.
Harmon said Venezuela was yet to offer an official statement on the occurrence.
Word of the delayed fuel shipment to Guyana came less than one week after Venezuela said it would no longer be buying rice and paddy from its English-speaking neighbour.
The Guyana government sought to downplay any link between the decision to quash the grain deal and the recent spat with Venezuela over its decision to unilaterally extend its maritime boundary to include waters off the Essequibo Coast. Venezuela also says that area forms part of its integral zone that it has a right to protect militarily.
Guyana has rejected two recent Decrees by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, staking claim to the area. President David Granger says diplomacy would be used to have Venezuela remove its threat and in the longer term a judicial settlement would be sought to confirm that the 1899 Aribitral Tribunal Award fully and finally settled the land border between the two countries.