Anadarko Roraima block exploration unlikely to continue during maritime impasse

- source

It is unlikely that US oil company Anadarko will be able to continue any exploration work as Guyana and Venezuela begin to explore a process to address maritime delimitation following the recent arrest and subsequent release of the seismic survey vessel Teknik Perdana, according to a source within the Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry.

The source spoke to Stabroek News on condition of anonymity, following unsuccessful attempts by this newspaper to elicit a comment from government, which has remained guarded about the situation following last Thursday’s talks with a delegation from Venezuela.

Attempts to reach Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud and Commissioner of Mines at the Geology and Mines Commission Rickford Vieira for clarification as to whether Anadarko’s exploration will continue proved futile.

Persaud had earlier directed this newspaper to seek a comment from Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, however, this proved unsuccessful as she did not return calls made to her.

In addition, attempts by Stabroek News to reach Anadarko Petroleum Corporation yesterday to confirm whether this was indeed the case proved futile as email messages and telephone calls did not yield responses.

However, in an earlier e-mailed response to queries from this newspaper, John Christiansen, Director of External Communications at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, said that at that stage it was premature to discuss future activities.

In June 2012, Anadarko signed an agreement with the Government of Guyana to commence exploration activities in the Roraima Block.

Talks last Thursday between the foreign ministers of Guyana and Venezuela resulted in a decision to have the countries’ technical experts meet in four months to discuss maritime delimitation.

They also reiterated that dialogue and cooperation are the means for a peaceful solution of differences between States. However, the joint statement on the outcome of the meeting made no reference as to whether or not the exploration of the Roraima Block would be allowed to continue.

On October 10, the Teknik Perdana was intercepted by a Venezuelan naval vessel, the Yakuana, then ordered and escorted to the island of Margarita. Guyana has maintained that the ship was intercepted in this country’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), where it was conducting seismic surveys for Anadarko Petroleum.

Since the incident both Guyana and Venezuela expressed their disappointment over the handling of the situation, with Guyana noting that it could be a serious threat to peace and Venezuela stating that an explanation was in order from Guyana as to why permission was granted for scientific prospecting and exploration of the continental shelf.

The vessel’s captain, Ukrainian Igor Bekirov, was charged with breaching a security zone and released on bail. The vessel was, however, released and has since left Margarita Island, with its destination unclear.

The arrest of the ship was out of sync with the line taken by President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro, who visited Guyana on August 31, 2013. It was on the day of that visit by Maduro that a group of Venezuelans crossed over the border into Eteringbang in what observers called an incursion on Guyana’s sovereignty. Persons felt too that this incident was well timed to embarrass the visiting Maduro and that it had been fuelled by forces in Venezuela hostile to the Maduro administration.

Maduro during his day-long visit here recommitted along with President Donald Ramotar to the United Nations Good Offices process in the search for a peaceful and practical settlement of the border controversy between the two countries.

Thursday’s meeting followed consternation in Georgetown over the October 10 seizure of the vessel which Anadarko Petroleum Corporation had indirectly contracted to carry out seismic survey work.

The joint statement said that the two ministers met on the instructions of their Presidents with the “aim of advancing the bilateral political dialogue in the light of the recent event.” It said too that the ministers voiced their satisfaction over the excellent relations which have developed between the two nations under the Presidency of Donald Ramotar and Nicolas Maduro Moros.

The statement said that the ministers ratified all the points of the Joint Declaration of September 30, 2011 in Port of Spain, signed by Rodrigues-Birkett and the then Minister of the People’s Power for External Relations of the Bolivarian Republic, Maduro, “where they recognised that the delimitation of the maritime boundaries between their two States remains an outstanding issue and agreed that such delimitation will require negotiations.”

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