Venezuela’s govt, opposition formally agree to unite around border controversy with Guyana

Last Updated on Tuesday, 7 September 2021, 21:32 by Denis Chabrol

Venezuela’s government and an opposition coalition have formally agreed to unite around their country’s longstanding claim to an oil-rich swath of neighboring Guyana, Argus Media reported.

Under the first partial accord signed yesterday, the parties came together around Venezuela’s historical claim to what it calls the Guayana Esequiba, territory which includes offshore oil acreage controlled by Guyana. An ExxonMobil-led consortium is currently producing some 120,000 b/d of crude from the Stabroek block in the disputed region, and forecasts reaching 800,000 b/d in 2025, surpassing Venezuela that once produced 3mn b/d and is now only pumping around 500,000 b/d.

The accord reiterates Venezuela’s rejection of the International Court of Justice’s declaration of jurisdiction over the issue, and its urging of Guyana to engage in direct negotiations.

There was no immediate response from Guyana’s government today.

The historical dispute, a legacy of British colonialism, is one area around which all Venezuelans agree. But the accord signed in Mexico surprised several onlookers consulted by Argus, as it appears to fall outside the spirit of an initial Memorandum of Understanding for the Norwegian-brokered talks signed in Mexico in August.

Geoff Ramsey, director for Venezuela at the Washington Office on Latin America, was quoted by Argus Media as saying that the Essequibo issue offered “low hanging fruit” to establish a “minimum consensus” in the talks.

The parties will meet again in late September. Russia and the Netherlands are accompanying the talks, Argus said.