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Venezuela navy confronts Exxon oil ship in Guyana border dispute

Venezuela navy confronts Exxon oil ship in Guyana border dispute

Postby smix » Tue Dec 25, 2018 6:44 pm

Venezuela navy confronts Exxon oil ship in Guyana border dispute
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-guya ... SKCN1OM0BK
Category: Politics
Published: December 23, 2018

Description: GEORGETOWN/CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s navy “intercepted” a ship exploring for oil on behalf of Exxon Mobil Corp in Guyanese waters over the weekend, Guyana’s foreign ministry said in a statement, while neighboring Venezuela said the incident occurred within its territory. The latest incident in a century-old border dispute comes after a series of offshore oil discoveries have given Guyana the potential to become one of Latin America’s largest producers. In OPEC member Venezuela, by contrast, crude output has tumbled to the lowest levels in nearly 70 years amid an economic crisis. The Ramform Tethys vessel, which belongs to Norwegian company Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) and was conducting seismic survey work on behalf of Exxon, stopped exploration and turned east after being approached by the Venezuelan navy, PGS spokesman Bard Stenberg said in a statement. “Guyana rejects this illegal, aggressive and hostile act,” Guyana’s foreign ministry said in a statement late on Saturday, adding that the move “demonstrates the real threat to Guyana’s economic development by its western neighbor” and “violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country.” The ministry added that it would report the incident to the United Nations and send formal communication to Venezuela’s government. It said it would inform the governments of the various homelands of the 70 crew members aboard the vessel, flagged by the Bahamas, of the “threat to their safety.” A spokeswoman for Exxon said the U.S. oil firm’s seismic explorations in the western portion of Guyana’s Stabroek Block “have been paused until they can be safely continued,” and that the vessel was operating in Guyana’s exclusive economic zone. In a statement on Sunday, Venezuela’s foreign ministry said its navy, during a routine patrol, had encountered two boats hired by Exxon in an area under “undoubtedly Venezuelan sovereignty” and “proceeded to apply the appropriate international protocols.” The ministry said the boats’ captains told the navy they had permission from Guyana’s government to explore in the area, and that the boats turned around after being told Guyana did not have jurisdiction in that area. It also said it informed the UN and sent a protest note to Guyana’s government. Neither PGS nor Guyana’s foreign ministry immediately responded to requests to clarify whether one or two research ships were involved in the incident.
LONGSTANDING DISPUTE
Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro has previously criticized Guyana’s decision to allow oil exploration in the waters off the shore of the Essequibo region, a sparsely populated and dense jungle area equivalent to around two-thirds of Guyanese territory that Venezuela also claims. Guyana says Caracas agreed to relinquish the area after a ruling by an international tribunal in 1899, but Venezuela later backtracked on that decision. The U.N. earlier this year referred the dispute to the International Court of Justice, a move welcomed by Georgetown but criticized by Caracas. The dispute has heated up in recent years as Exxon has announced the discovery of more than 5 billion barrels of oil off the shore of Guyana, an English-speaking nation of 750,000 with no history of oil production. In a statement, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino faulted Venezuela for the latest incident. “The Venezuelan Navy aggressively stopped ExxonMob‎il contracted vessels operating under an oil exploration agreement with the Cooperative Republic of Guyana in its Exclusive Economic Zone,” he said, saying Guyana had the right to explore there and urging Venezuela to respect international law and its neighbors’ rights. Washington is a critic of Maduro’s government, which it accuses of corruption and human rights violations. On Friday, Guyana’s parliament toppled the government in a no-confidence vote, paving the way for elections in three months.



Venezuela calls U.S. comments on Guyana, Exxon dispute 'interventionist'
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/guyana- ... SL1N1YU059
Category: Politics
Published: December 25, 2018

Description: CARACAS, Dec 25 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s foreign ministry on Tuesday described as “interventionist and disrespectful” U.S. comments on a weekend incident in which the South American country’s navy stopped two ships exploring for oil for Exxon Mobil off Guyana’s coast. Each country says the Saturday incident occurred within its territorial waters. In response to the event, the U.S. State Department said Venezuela had behaved “aggressively” and said Guyana had the right to exploit natural resources in its territory.



Venezuela calls U.S. comments on Guyana dispute 'interventionist'
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-guya ... SKCN1OO0NM
Category: Politics
Published: December 25, 2018

Description: CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s foreign ministry on Tuesday described as “interventionist and disrespectful” U.S. comments on a weekend incident in which the country’s navy stopped two ships exploring for oil for Exxon Mobil off Guyana’s coast. Each of the neighboring South American countries says the incident on Saturday occurred within its territorial waters. In response to the event, the U.S. State Department said Venezuela had behaved “aggressively” and called on the country to “respect international law and the rights of its neighbors.” “It is evident that the U.S. government is interfering in a matter that is not at all incumbent upon it, with the goal of promoting corporate interests closely linked to the Washington ruling elite,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. Socialist President Nicolas Maduro has accused the United States of plotting to invade Venezuela and overthrow his government, while Washington has placed sanctions on Venezuela’s debt and members of Maduro’s government over accusations of corruption, human rights violations and election-rigging. A century-long territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana has flared up in recent years with Exxon’s discovery of more than 5 billion barrels of oil and gas off Guyana’s coast. In OPEC-member Venezuela, crude output is hovering near 70-year lows amid a severe economic crisis. Guyana says Caracas gave up its claim to the Essequibo, a sparsely populated jungle area making up two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, after an 1899 ruling by an international tribunal, but Venezuela later backtracked on that decision. The U.N. this year referred the dispute to the International Court of Justice. Two vessels owned by Norway’s Petroleum Geo-Services and under contract by Exxon Mobil were conducting seismic survey work in the area. The ships stopped their work and turned east after the Venezuelan navy told them Guyana did not have jurisdiction there. When asked on Monday if there were plans for the vessels to resume their activities, Guyana Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge said the government was “in discussion” with Exxon. Neither Exxon nor PGS immediately responded to requests for comment on Tuesday, and the U.S. State Department declined to comment. On Monday, the Caricom group of 15 Caribbean nations including Guyana - many of which have historically received subsidized oil from Venezuela under Caracas’ Petrocaribe program - said it viewed the “interception” by Venezuela’s navy “with grave concern.” “Such acts violate the sovereign rights of Guyana under international law,” the group said in a statement.
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