“Unacceptable” to breach Guyana’s sovereignty- US

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 September 2023, 16:31 by Denis Chabrol

The US’ Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian A. Nichols

The United States (US) on Wednesday afternoon deemed as “unacceptable” Venezuela’s clear threat to oil companies that have bid for eight oil blocks offshore Guyana.

“The U.S. supports Guyana’s sovereign right to develop its own natural resources. Efforts to infringe upon Guyana’s sovereignty are unacceptable. We call on Venezuela to respect international law, including the 1899 arbitral award & the ongoing ICJ (International Court of Justice) process between Guyana & Venezuela,” US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs, Brian A. Nichols said in a tweet.

That was in response to Venezuela’s second statement in reaction to President Irfaan Ali’s initial comment to the first statement. “The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela warns all companies that participate in the illegal bidding process called by Guyana, that it will apply all necessary measures to avoid the illegitimate exploitation of natural resources that belong to our nation,” the Foreign Ministry in Caracas said. Among the six bidders are the France-based TotalEnergies, American supermajor ExxonMobil, US-headquartered Hess Corporation, China National Overseas Oil Corporation and several Arab companies.

Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali earlier Wednesday, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, complained that Venezuela issued a “very threatening message”. Despite very limited military assets and troop numbers, Dr Ali vowed that “Guyana will spare no effort in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity.” He did not provide details, but Guyana has historically relied on robust diplomacy to do so.

“We demand that Venezuela honours its obligation under the charter to pursue only peaceful means to settle any disputes it may have with Guyana, including adjudication before the International Court of Justice. Allowing the court to decide would ensure a resolution that is peaceful, equitable, and in accordance with international law,” he added.

Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro has already stated that ‘we vehemently decry intimidatory tactics that seek to undermine the principle of “good neighborliness.” We recognize the right of Guyana to welcome investors. Guyana must preserve its territorial integrity & security by addressing its case with Venezuela at the ICJ.”

The ICJ is yet to rule on Guyana’s substantive case that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award of the Guyana-Venezuela boundary is the full, final and perfect settlement of the land boundary. So far, Venezuela has lost all preliminary points in the case, although it has contended that the ICJ has no jurisdiction. Venezuela instead wants the border controversy that was reopened in 1964 to be bilaterally negotiated.

Venezuela late Wednesday also accused the Guyana government and its ruling elites of continuing to “act shamelessly, as employees of Exxon Mobil, and have handed over their sovereignty and independence to this American company, with the intention of taking over natural resources that do not belong to them. According to Caracas, that conspiracy also finances a perverse diplomatic, media and legal campaign to strip Venezuela of its legitimate territorial rights.

Venezuela’s military has in the past intercepted foreign seismic research vessels that had been gathering data in offshore blocks offshore Essequibo for American oil companies, Anadarko and ExxonMobil.