Oil companies should “pay no regard” to Maduro’s ultimatum – Jagdeo

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Guyana’s Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo has urged oil companies operating in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to ignore the recent statements by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordering them to vacate. 

“I want to say to the oil companies that he has given an ultimatum to, they should pay no regard to Maduro or his ultimatum,” Jagdeo declared at a press conference on December 7. 

After going through with the December 3 referendum meant to annex the Essequibo region, President Maduro defied recent orders by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to not aggravate the border controversy with Guyana. 

He issued a revised map of Venezuela including Guyana’s territory and issued directives for the formation of fresh administrative bodies responsible for issuing licenses for oil, gas, and mineral exploration in the Essequibo area. To the oil companies with operations there, he gave them a three-month timeline to leave. He also proposed enacting legislation aimed at establishing designated environmentally protected zones, potentially serving as hubs for tourism and preserving biodiversity.

Jagdeo made it clear that Guyana is prepared to defend its sovereign territory. 

The Vice President declared that any attempt by Caracas to explore petroleum in Guyana’s EEZ “will be seen as an incursion” and an attempt to further aggravate the controversy. 

“We will fight this off robustly,” Jagdeo added. 

Venezuela’s wave of aggression started when Guyana announced the results of its bid round and peaked with the referendum and the actions to enact them. Industry analysts believe that the threats would not drive away investors. Guyana is also forging ahead with finalising negotiations with winners of the auction.

Jagdeo had said that Venezuela’s land grab efforts are fueled by “jealousy and greed” of Guyana’s oil success. 

By 2027, Guyana oil production is expected to hit 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), making it the second largest producer in South America, after Brazil, based on current output across the region. The country’s lone producer is a consortium led by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil. The company recently started producing at a third project. Its Guyana lead, Alistair Routledge has already declared that the company has not been scared off by Maduro. 

Venezuela has the world’s largest proven crude reserves – 298.4 billion – and once pumped a whopping three million barrels per day. But the global energy crisis saw the re-emergence of its oil and gas industry, dragging the country out of more than a decade-long economic slump.

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