Guyana warns of Venezuela intentions
as Maduro regime seized fishing vessels
Two Guyanese registered fishing vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – operating off Waini Point,
were intercepted by Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24 on Thursday January 21,
2021. There are reports that Venezuela's navy has seized another fishing vessel.
By Canute James/Platts
Petroleumworld 02 01 2021
Guyana is warning that Venezuela has expanded its military presence in oil-rich maritime territory off Essequibo province.
The Essequibo region that covers the western two-thirds of Guyana is the subject of a longstanding territorial despite. Under a license issued by Guyana, ExxonMobil is currently developing an oil block that partially overlaps the disputed waters.
Georgetown is investigating reports that Venezuela's navy has seized another fishing vessel after two others were taken in early January to the port of Guiria, Guyana's foreign minister Hugh Todd warned in a speech before the National Assembly yesterday.
Venezuela took custody of the fishing boat Miss Annie and the seven-member crew after they were discovered illegally fishing in Mariusa, Tucupita municipality in the river area of Delta Amacuro state, the country's armed forces said on 25 January, noting that the vessel was carrying 500 liters of diesel in addition to fish.
Guyana maintains the fishing vessels that were seized earlier were in its territory – a claim refuted by Caracas. Trinidad and Tobago has said it mediating the dispute.
Canada, the Organization of American States (OAS), regional trade group Caricom and Guyana's opposition have joined the US in rejecting Maduro's intention to seize the Essequibo province.
"Following the announcement by President Maduro, there was increased activity in Guyana's maritime space by Venezuelan navy vessels and other Venezuelan state assets," Todd said, without specifying what assets he was referring to.
Venezuela should "desist from actions that violate international law and threaten the peace and stability of the region," he said.
Guyana has deployed more troops along the disputed border, the government said on 14 January. This followed a government agreement with the US to beef up its military capacity and joint coast guard exercises.
The 120-year-old dispute flared last month after The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) agreed to arbitrate Guyana's request for validation of its border with Venezuela, after which Maduro vowed to "reconquer" the Essequibo province.
Caracas maintains that the ICJ has no jurisdiction over the matter.
Venezuela's actions "will seriously undermine the peace and security not only of Guyana and Venezuela, but the entire Caribbean region," Caricom said.
Caricom's statement "not only contributes to an ominously hostile climate, but also supports the interests of US transactional corporations that seek to take control of an un-demarcated territory based on an undesirable conflict in the region," Venezuela's foreign ministry said.
The dispute involves a part of the deepwater Stabroek block where ExxonMobil has made several discoveries since 2015, estimating recoverable resources of 9bn bl oil equivalent (boe), and from which it is producing 120,000 b/d of light crude.
The US major forecasts 750,000 b/d of oil production from the block in 2026.
In 2013, Venezuela's navy briefly seized a research vessel working in the Roraima block under contract from US independent Anadarko. And in December 2018, ExxonMobil suspended seismic surveys on a part of its acreage license after a research vessel it contracted was approached by a Venezuelan navy ship.