Guyana reserves the right to pursue economic development – Pres. Ali responds to Venezuela’s threats

President Dr Irfaan Ali

President Dr Irfaan Ali has responded to a communiqué by Venezuela regarding Guyana’s ongoing oil auction, making it clear that ” the Government of Guyana reserves the right to pursue economic development activities in any portion of its sovereign territory or any appurtenant maritime territories.”

Venezuela issued a statement rejecting the oil auction, claiming that “Guyana does not have sovereign rights over these maritime areas and consequently any action within their limits. It is a violation of International Law, as long as they are not carried out through an agreement with Venezuela.”

But President Ali has contended 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.”

Venezuela is laying claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass in Essequibo and a portion of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in which more than 30 oil discoveries have been made by ExxonMobil and its partners.

Guyana last year went out to auction some more of its oil blocks offshore. While the bidding round concluded on September 12, the government is currently in the process of reviewing the submissions. Fourteen blocks were up for auction ( 11 in shallow water and three in deep-water) but only eight were bid on.

Guyana’s border controversy with Venezuela is currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Guyana, among other things, is asking the ICJ to declare that the 1899 Award is valid and binding upon Guyana and Venezuela and that Venezuela is internationally responsible for violations of Guyana’s sovereignty and sovereign rights, and for all injuries suffered by Guyana as a consequence.