Venezuela releases seized US ship and 36-member crew

A Venezuelan Coast Guard boat sits next to the 285-foot survey ship Teknik Perdana docked near the shore in Margarita Island, Venezuela, Sunday. [Gustavo Granado / AP]

[] – The Venezuelan Government has released the 36-member crew of the research Vessel Teknik Perdana, who were picked up and taken by Venezuela’s Navy to Margarita Island, while working in disputed waters between Guyana and Venezuela.

A US ship that was also seized by the Venezuelan Navy has also been released.

This is according to a statement from SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad – the company the vessel belongs to. However, Guyana’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud when asked to confirm whether this was true said he had no such information at the time.

This comes two day ahead of a planned meeting between Venezuelan and Guyanese authorities set for Thursday (October 17) in Trinidad and Tobago to resolve what would have been the fate of  the ship and crew. Also on the agenda for discussion was the disputed maritime area.

The foreign ministers of both countries have spoken on the phone and expressed the hope of resolving diplomatically whatever difference exists between both sides.

Venezuela’s navy on Thursday seized the RV Teknik Perdana survey boat, which was being used byTexas-based Anadarko. Venezuela said the ship had violated its waters. However, Guyanese authorities said the boat was well within its territory.

The boat was taken to the Venezuelan island of Margarita. Its Ukrainian captain Igor Bekirov was due to appear in court shortly to face charges of violating Venezuelan waters, Venezuelan judicial authorities had said.

Venezuela and Guyana have long argued about the status of the disputed Essequibo region, an area on the border about the size of the U.S. state of Georgia, and over rights to the ocean resources that lie offshore. Venezuela calls it a “reclamation zone,” but in practice it functions as Guyanese territory.

In a statement on Tuesday October 15, the company expressed gratitude to the Venezuelan Government for caring for the Safety and welfare of the crew, which comprises multiple nationalities, during the time they were at Margarita Island and also for releasing the vessel.




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