Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge today briefed the National Assembly on Venezuela’s recent incursion into Guyana’s waters to interfere with the work of an ExxonMobil contracted research vessel.
In offering details on the interference by the Venezuelan Navy, the Minister explained that an attempt was even made by the Venezuelans to land a helicopter on the vessel.
He told the Assembly that on Saturday December 22, 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received a report from Esso Exploration & Production, Guyana Limited (Exxon Mobil) that vessels under contract by the company and its partners CNOOC of China and NEX of the USA, performing exploratory seismic work within the Stabroek block were intercepted at 10.30 hours that same day by the Venezuelan Navy.
” A reckless attempt was made by the Venezuelans to land a helicopter on the deck of one of them, the Ramform Tethys. That vessel was flagged by the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and had a total of seventy crew members on board including the Captain. It was intercepted in the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana at an approximate distance of 140 kilometres from the nearest point to the provisional equidistant line with Venezuela and some 250 kilometres from Punta Playa, the westernmost point on the land border of Guyana”, he explained.
He said a standoff ensued and the Venezuelan navy attempted to get the vessel to travel over to its side. The Minister said Guyana’s response has been to defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights “firmly, consistently, peacefully and fully in accordance with international law”.
On the same day of the incident, he said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dispatched a formal protest to the Government of Venezuela conveying the complete rejection by the Government of Guyana of this hostile and unlawful act.
“It stated that Venezuela’s threat and use of force to impede Guyana’s exercise of sovereign rights in its Exclusive Economic Zone, is a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations and general international law.”
Mr. Greenidge said he has noted that Venezuela has indicated that it is open to dialogue. However he made it clear that dialogue cannot take place under such threats.
He explained that Guyana has informed Venezuela that it will not be intimidated by the heightened hostility by that country “as we continue to pursue our economic development agenda.”
The Foreign Minister told the Assembly that Guyana has reminded Venezuela that the Stabroek Block is an area over which Guyana maintains sovereign rights, located in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Guyana.
“Companies with concessions licenced by the Government of Guyana in this area will continue to implement their scheduled programmes of activity”.
He added that Venezuela should join Guyana in seeking a peaceful, just and final resolution of the controversy by participating in the proceedings before the International Court of Justice, presenting all of its claims and defences to the Court, and accepting the final Judgment of the Court.
Venezuela has said it does not recognise the Court.