GUYANA has condemned the interception of research vessel Ramform Tethys by the Venezuelan navy at 10.30hrs on Saturday in its exclusive economic zone as illegal, aggressive and hostile.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement said Venezuela’s action violates Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and once again demonstrated a real threat to Guyana’s economic development.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be bringing this latest act of illegality and blatant disrespect for Guyana’s sovereignty by Venezuela to the attention of the United Nations. It is also in the process of informing the several governments of the seventy crew members of the threat to their safety. The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will also receive formal communication from the Government of Guyana on this matter,” the statement said.
The vessel, flagged by the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, was contracted to conduct seismic work by Exxon Mobil and had a total of seventy crew members on board, including the captain.
It was intercepted in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana at a position of N 09 deg 17.19 min / W 058 deg 16.20 min at an approximate distance of 140 Km from the nearest point to the provisional equidistant line with Venezuela, the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Meanwhile, the Ramform Tethys, which was conducting seismic surveys offshore Guyana on behalf of ExxonMobil, is heading out of the area, the Norwegian company, Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) has confirmed.
“We are operating in Guyana under the authority of the Guyana Government and has all necessary permits to perform this survey. The vessel has now stopped seismic acquisition and is now heading east,” a company official at PGS told the Guyana Chronicle via email.
The official said the company is working to obtain more clarity on the situation. It was noted by PGS that the safety and well-being of the crew onboard the vessel is its first priority.
Reports are that the Venezuelan naval ship has since vacated the area.
ExxonMobil said earlier, that it has put its seismic operations in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana on hold “until they can be safely continued”.
In a statement, the American oil giant said 3-D seismic data acquisition of the western portion of the Stabroek Block began earlier this month.
PGS provides images and 3D data about the subsurface beneath the ocean floor. This assists oil companies in undertaking oil finds.
Earlier this month, the American oil giant announced that it made a 10th oil discovery offshore Guyana.
Exxon said the resource estimate, up from the previous estimate of more than four billion oil-equivalent barrels, is a result of further evaluation of previous discoveries and includes a new discovery at the Pluma-1 well.
“The discovery of a resource base of more than five billion oil-equivalent barrels in less than four years is a testament of our technical expertise and rigorous evaluation and pursuit of high-potential, high-risk opportunities in this frontier area,” said Neil Chapman, ExxonMobil Senior Vice-President.
“We will continue to apply what we’ve learned to identify additional exploration prospects and potential future discoveries that will deliver significant value to Guyanese people, our partners and shareholders.”
The Pluma-1 well encountered approximately 121 feet (37 metres) of high-quality hydrocarbon-bearing sandstone reservoir. Pluma-1 reached a depth of 16,447 feet (5,013 metres) in 3,340 feet (1,018 metres) of water. The Noble Tom Madden drillship began drilling on November 1. The well is located approximately 17 miles (27 kilometres) south of the Turbot-1 well. The Noble Tom Madden will next drill the Tilapia-1 prospect located 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometres) west of the Longtail-1 well.
“Together with the government and people of Guyana, we are continuing to grow the value of the Stabroek Block for Guyana, our partners and ExxonMobil with successful exploration investments,” said Steve Greenlee, President of ExxonMobil Exploration Company.