Reverberations from yesterday’s incident off the coast of Guyana, which involved a Venezuelan navy frigate and an ExxonMobil oil exploration ship. Today, the governments of Venezuela, Guyana and the United States all issued statements on the event.
Yesterday, a Venezuelan navy vessel “approached” an ExxonMobil vessel off the coast of Guyana yesterday, forcing the ship to halt operations and sail eastwards away from the area. The ship is called Ramform Tethys, and was hired by ExxonMobil to conduct a “seismic survey” in the oil-rich waters.
According to ABC News, the Venezuelan vessel “did not board the ship”, and that the vessel had “all required permits” to operate under the authority of Guyana.
Venezuela and Guyana have a centuries-old border dispute with Guyana over the Essequibo region, which is located in the western part of Venezuela. That dispute also involves the region’s coastal waters, with both sides claiming and operating under different border understandings.
Caracas Claims Ship was in Venezuelan Waters
The Maduro regime reacted to the event today by claiming that Ramform Tethys was in Venezuelan waters when it was approached by its ship.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza posted a statement addressing the matter on his Twitter account:
In light of the flagrant violation of our sovereignty by oil exploration ships hired by Guyana, the [armed forces] proceeded to employ the corresponding protocols under strict rigor and adherence to international agreements and treaties.
In the statement, Caracas explained that the ship was operating in its waters, regardless of whether or not Guyana gave them permission to do so. Part of the statement reads:
It is important to point out that in the communication exchange that the captains of the exploration ships argued that they had a permit from the government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to operate in that maritime area. They were then informed that that country does not have jurisdiction over the maritime projection of the Orinoco Delta, which is why they [the ExxonMobil ship] lifted its anchor and headed towards the extensive disputed zone that is off the Esequiba coast.
Guyana Will Take Up Issue with UN
The government of Guyana called the Venezuelan response “aggressive”, “illegal”, and “hostile”, and said that it would take the matter to the United Nations. The statement came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge.
According to Greenidge, Ramform Tethys was “in Guyanese waters” when it was approached by the Venezuelan vessel at 10:30 AM local time. He also said that the ship has a crew of 70 people.
US Sides With Guyana, Calls for Calm
Robert Palladino, the deputy spokesperson for the for the U.S. Department of State, issued a statement on his Twitter account on the event. In the statement, Palladino sided with Guyana in the dispute, and called on Venezuela to respect its neighbour’s sovereignty.
Below, Palladino’s statement:
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