CARICOM has issued a statement expressing extreme concern about plan of Venezuela to ask for bids for oil drilling rights in disputed coastal waters close to Guyana.
“The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) notes with grave concern the contents of a Communique emanating from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela regarding the announcement made by our sister Member State, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, about its intention to open bids for certain oil blocks in the waters adjacent to Guyana’s coast” says the statement.
Guyana is a member of CARICOM.
“CARICOM views the stated intention of Venezuela to “apply all the necessary measures” to prevent the operations licensed by Guyana in its waters, as a threat of the use of force contrary to international law.”
“It is also not in keeping with the long-standing position of the Latin American and Caribbean countries that our Region must remain a Zone of Peace.
“CARICOM has also taken note of the decision of the Venezuelan National Assembly to conduct a popular referendum on defending Venezuela’s claim.
“CARICOM expresses the hope that Venezuela will engage fully in the process before the International Court of Justice, which has determined that it has the jurisdiction in the case brought before it. The Court’s final decision will ensure a resolution that is peaceful, equitable and in accordance with international law.
“The Caribbean Community reiterates its full and unequivocal support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, including its right to peacefully develop the resources of its territory.
In addition to already dispatching formal correspondence that it objects to the claims and to a referendum announced in Venezuela, the Government of Guyana on Saturday summoned Venezuela’s Ambassador to Guyana Carlos Amador Pérez Silva to a meeting and told him that the decision contradicts the Geneva Agreement.
In arguments made before the Court, Venezuela criticised Guyana’s extraction and commercialisation of its offshore petroleum resources, among other things.
The Guyana Ministry noted Friday that the Geneva Agreement imposes no obligation on Guyana to refrain from economic development activities in any portion of its territory, or any appurtenant maritime areas.
It added that any unilateral attempt by Venezuela to restrict the exercise by Guyana of its sovereignty and sovereign rights will be wholly inconsistent with the Geneva Agreement and the rule of international law.
ExxonMobil has discovered 11 billion oil-equivalent barrels offshore Guyana, and currently produces about 380,000 barrels of crude per day.
The border between Venezuela and Guyana (British Guiana at the time) was settled by an international 5-man tribunal in 1899 that awarded the land west of the Essequibo river to Guyana and settled the point at which Venezuela, Guyana, and Brazil meet in a three-way border.
Sources: SKNIS, CARICOM, United Nations, coha.org