Venezuelan officials question crew of boat seized in Guyana’s waters

The oil-exploration ship seized by Venezuela in Guyana’s waters has arrived at a naval port where Venezuelan authorities began questioning the crew, according to a report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

The vessel was contracted by the government of Guyana and U.S. firm Anadarko Petroleum Corp and detained on Thursday by a Venezuelan navy vessel.

Guyana has condemned Venezuela’s aggression but Caracas is arguing that the boat was in Venezuelan waters. Foreign ministers of the two countries are to meet this week to try to resolve what is being seen as the most serious diplomatic incident between the two countries for many years. The Panamanian-flagged vessel, the MV Teknik Perdana, was ordered to a port on the Venezuelan island of Margarita with 36 navigation and engineering specialists on board, including five U.S. citizens, the Wall Street Journal report said.

The report said that the crew was being interrogated by officials from the Venezuelan attorney general’s office “with the strictest respect for human rights,” Venezuelan navy Adm. Ángel Martínez said in comments to the local Union Radio station. Fourteen members of the crew are Indonesian nationals, he said, adding that others were from Ukraine, Malaysia, Russia, the U.K., France and Brazil.

The Teknik Perdana’s crew are safe and remain in contact with the company, said Peter Tatro, director of operations at TDI-Brooks International Inc., the Texas-based company Anadarko contracted to do the survey work on its behalf. “The issue is between the governments of Guyana and Venezuela. We’re in the middle of this,” he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas said it was aware of the detained crew but declined to comment further, citing “privacy concerns.”

Guyana’s Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett is to meet with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elías Jaua “in the coming week” to “find a peaceful solution”.

Guyana expressed at the incident saying it was “clear that the vessel and its crew were not only being escorted out of Guyana’s waters, but were under arrest. These actions by the Venezuelan naval vessel are unprecedented in Guyana-Venezuela relations.”

Around the Web