Greenidge defends spending big on settling Guyana’s border rows; says US$10 million on boundary dispute gave Guyana lucrative Liza 1 well

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 December 2018, 14:02 by Denis Chabrol

The line drawn by the United Nations Tribunal on the Law of the Sea that settled the Guyana-Suriname maritime boundary dispute.

Guyana has spent GYD$780 million (US$3.7 million) from the US$18 million signing bonus from ExxonMobil on legal fees for the settlement of the border controversy with Venezuela, expenditure Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge is a huge value for money.

“The 15 million is what is funding the legal fees…  and it will fund the fees in 2019 until it is exhausted,” he told a news conference held at ‘Takuba Lodge’ where the Foreign Ministry is housed.

Asked to justify the spending of the signing bonus on resolving the controversy that was earlier this year transferred by the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guttieres to the International Court of Justice, Greenidge queried:  “What is it that we are fretting about?”

Greenidge said  production of the the more than 5 billion barrels of oil equivalent discovered so far offshore would start off in 2020 with about US$350 million annually.

He highlighted that Guyana, under the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC), had spent US$10 million on settling the Guyana-Suriname maritime boundary dispute at the United Nations Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. The Foreign Minister pointed out that if Guyana had lost that legal battle and the line had been drawn slightly west, the Liza 1 well where commercial oil reserves were discovered in 2015 would have been in Suriname’s territory.

“If the line running from the mouth of the Corentyne river was more towards Venezuelan side, all of Liza One would have been Suriname’s property so unlike the Guyanese, Suriname woud have been celebrating now and not trying to commit suicide,” Greenidge said.

The Liza well has 800 to 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

The Foreign Minister noted that Liza One is 86 kilometres from the Guyana-Suriname border, representing excellent cost-benefit ratio when compared to the US$10 millions spent.

A Tribunal of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in September 2007 settled the maritime boundary between the two countries more than three years after Guyana took the matter to that body- a move that had stemmed from Surinamese gun boats in June 2000 chasing out an oil exploration rig from a concession that had been awarded to a Canadian company.