– As Venezuela says Exxon oil operations in Guyana violates 1966 Geneva agreement
Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional has published a report detailing that the Energy and Petroleum Commission of the National Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is convinced that the oil exploration ongoing in Guyana violates the Geneva Agreement of 1966 and Article 10 of The Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela, “which clearly establishes the Venezuelan territory”.
But in a statement issued to the media on Thursday following publication of the El Nacional article, The Ministry of the Presidency maintains that Guyana has always respected the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal’s Award as being the final settlement of the border controversy, and that President Granger views Venezuela’s claims to Guyana’s territory as “expansionist ambition”.
The statement further reveals that the Administration of President David Granger has committed to bringing an end to the decades-old border controversy between Guyana and neighbouring Venezuela through judicial intervention, since Venezuela is bent on seeking to prove that it owns part of Guyana, despite the decision handed down by the Arbitral Tribunal.
The Energy and Petroleum Commission of Venezuela has rejected the legality of oil operations ongoing in Guyana’s Essequibo region. Venezuela has, for several decades, been claiming Guyana’s territory, although the border issue has been settled since 1899.
According to the El Nacional report, vice-president of the parliamentary body, Deputy for Zulia, Elías Matta, tabled the draft agreement, explaining that, “As stipulated in Article 5 of the Geneva Agreement, no resource can be exploited if there is no agreement between both nations”.
“Deputy Matta said the Guyana Government carried out the expansion of oil prospecting operations in May 2015, in which Exxon-Mobil reported a discovery at the Liza-1 well of the Stabroek Block.
“Likewise, on November 17, 2016, the commercialisation of the same was announced, estimating its recoverable resources (at) between 800 million and 1.4 billion barrels of high quality crude oil belonging to the coastal waters of the Essequibo”, the report noted.
The Venezuelan Parliamentary Commission wants the Venezuelan Government to send this “agreement” to the new UN Good Officer for the Guyana/Venezuela conflict. The Commission also wants the UN official “to immediately suspend all operations carried out within the maritime area corresponding to the territory in claim until the dispute is resolved.”
The UN Good Officer has no such powers, according to local officials familiar with the process.
The border controversy, which was not on Venezuela’s front burner for several years – after being first officially mooted in 1962 – was reignited when US oil giant ExxonMobil began exploratory works in the Stabroek Block offshore the Essequibo.
With Guyana on the verge of becoming a lucrative oil-producing nation, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro issued a decree in May 2015, purporting to claim the majority of Guyana’s waters off the Essequibo. The decree was a flagrant violation of international law, and was inconsistent with the principle that all states should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states.
In an effort to defend its sovereignty, Guyana has made it clear to the Venezuelan Government that the Essequibo and the waters offshore belong to Guyana, and has strengthened its push for judicial settlement of the issue, as the Good Offices process had yielded little result.
The border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela was settled by an international tribunal in 1899 in an award the parties, including Venezuela, had agreed would be the final settlement. Since Venezuela began adopting a belligerent attitude towards Guyana, moves have been made by the international community, including the UN Secretary General, to push for a peaceful resolution of the issue.
Fifty years ago, shortly before Guyana’s independence in 1966, the Geneva Agreement was signed with the aim of amicably resolving the controversy, which has arisen because Venezuela contends that the Arbitral Award of 1899 in regard to the frontier between Venezuela and what is now the Cooperative Republic of Guyana is null and void.
The 1966 Geneva Agreement confers on the Secretary General of the United Nations the power to choose the means of settling this controversy from among those that are contemplated in Article 33 of the United Nations Charter. (Guyana Times)