Guyana/Venezuela oil exploration conflict…Guyana pleased at CARICOM support

– hopes conflict is resolved soon
As conflict between Guyana and Venezuela continues over offshore oil exploration in disputed waters, Guyana has expressed satisfaction at the solidarity shown by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, told reporters yesterday that there have been no major changes in the matter.
However, the Foreign Affairs Minister expressed pleasure at CARICOM’s solidarity with Guyana on the matter.
“We’re very happy too that CARICOM has continued their strong solidarity with Guyana on this matter and I’m advised that the Commonwealth has also just issued a statement in support,” Rodrigues-Birkett said. She continued, “It’s very good that we have the international support on this issue.”
She said, too, that the issue should be resolved soon while expressing Guyana’s willingness to engage with Venezuela.
“Of course, we’re always open to speaking with Venezuela; it’s our neighbour. We would like to see this issue resolved. It has been a long time and certainly I wouldn’t like to see this burden being there for the next generation. I think that we should have it resolved,” the Minister said.
Ms Rodrigues-Birkett said that her Ministry is reviewing its options that could be made available to the Secretary General of the UN. She said that a number of options are being considered.
In the meantime, the exploration work continues. The Minister said that Guyana is hoping to see good results coming out of the oil explorations. She added that there have been no complications thus far.
Venezuela had previously indicated that it was prepared to take actions following the recent start of oil drilling activities by the US exploration firm, ExxonMobil. The designated drilling area, known as the Stabroek Block, is just offshore of an area Venezuela claims as its own. Venezuela had also warned ExxonMobil not to drill for oil in the area.
However, ExxonMobil ignored this warning, instead insisting that an agreement had been struck with Guyana and not Venezuela. The drilling company subsequently commenced activities in the Stabroek Block.
Similarly, Guyana stood firm to its own claim of the area and called on Venezuela to be respectful of the age-old boundary award which gives Guyana the right to explore its economic potential.
Late February, Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also wrote to a number of organisations, informing them about Guyana’s objections to the offshore drilling.
In the dispatched Note Verbale, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Venezuela of engaging in actions which stymied the development of Guyana.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela desist from taking any actions that could only result in the stymieing of the development of Guyana and its people and that would be in contravention of international law,” the Guyana Ministry said.
In response, the government of Venezuela said that the accusations leveled against it were unacceptable and unjust and emphasised the bilateral cooperation between the two nations for decades as testimony to the promotion of development in Guyana.
Just last week, CARICOM backed Guyana in the dispute and reiterated “its firm, long-standing and continued support for the maintenance of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana and for the unhindered economic and social development of all of Guyana”.
ExxonMobil plans to invest $200 million in exploratory drilling off Guyana in the Liza field, which is part of the Stabroek Block.

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