GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping has reiterated “its full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Guyana after the Venezuelan navy is reported to have intercepted a seismic research vessel in Guyana waters last weekend.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who is also the CARICOM chairman, said that the region grouping “views with grave concern the reported interception by the Venezuelan navy on Saturday, 22 December 2018 of a seismic research vessel flagged by the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana”
He said that “such acts violate the sovereign rights of Guyana under international law, its entitlement to a territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf, and pose a threat to Guyana’s economic development and national security.
“The Caribbean Community reiterates its full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, including its right to peacefully explore and exploit its onshore and offshore resource,” Holness added.
Exxon Mobil forced to pause exploration
Last Saturday, the US-based oil giant, ExxonMobil said it was forced to pause part of its latest oil exploration activities offshore Guyana in the Stabroek Block following reports of an alleged incursion by the Venezuelan military in Guyana waters.
Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge in a statement said the Guyana government is “seeking to confirm exactly what has happened” and has assured that a more detailed statement would be issued.
ExxonMobil has already discovered the equivalent of over five billion barrels of oil offshore Guyana and the company recently announced continuous drilling work in the Stabroek block area, offshore Guyana.
In October 2013, the Venezuelan Navy had intercepted a Malaysia-owned seismic vessel, Teknik Perdana that had been gathering seismic data for the Texas-headquartered Anadarko Petroleum.
Rule of law must be respected
Meanwhile, Britain’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn told the online publication, Demerara Waves Online News, that the rule of law must be respected and those who have the legitimate permissions to operate and undertake their activities must be allowed the do so”.
“The UK (United Kingdom) is clear that the 1899 Arbitral Award settled the border between Guyana and Venezuela. We support the ongoing work of the UN Secretary General,” he added.
Guyana has already started the process of taking the border dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after the mediation efforts of the UN Secretary General failed.