Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman on Friday said that Government is trying to fast track oil production so as to strengthen its case in the ongoing border controversy with neighbouring Venezuela that has been sent before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for resolution.
According to Minister Trotman this move is a strategic one given the claims by the western neighbour over waters that are being explored for oil.
“It was important to us that we secure and anchor the company in Guyana and it is important to us that we move production as the fastest possible time without of course sacrificing some of the environmental practices at the alter of expediency” Trotman said.
He continued “yes we wanted economic benefits and rents but more importantly because of the re-drawing of the lines by Venezuela, it was important for Guyana to move the production as quickly as possible so that you can assert that when you got to court that production was taking place within the territorial waters of Guyana. That would become an indisputable fact before a court of law.”
According to the Natural Resources Minister “if it was that there was no production it would be a matter for dispute as to where the well stood.”
ExxonMobil has since announced that it is expecting to produce oil in year 2020.
The decades old controversy between the neighbouring countries began in 1962 when Venezuela claimed that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the Guyana-Venezuela border, is null and void.
Relations between Guyana and Venezuela have worsened ever since oil giant ExxonMobil announced in 2015 that it has found oil in Guyana. Venezuela has staunchly been against oil exploration in Guyana’s Stabroek Block, where ExxonMobil has found multiple oil deposits.
In fact, Venezuela’s National Assembly had approved an agreement to reject the oil exploration activities in March 2017.
Guyana has maintained that the only way to settle the controversy is by way of a juridical settlement at the ICJ.
Trotman was at the time delivering a presentation at the Guyana Oil and Gas Law training Development Conference, which was organised by the Judiciary and the Guyana Bar Association.
The conference is being held at the Ramada Princess Hotel and is scheduled for two days.