Guyana’s Minister with responsibility for the petroleum sector says the recently announced decision of the United Nation’s Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to refer the decades old border controversy with Venezuela to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the best course of action on the matter taken in 51 years.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, told OilNOW on Wednesday he remains confident in the leadership and direction which has been taken on the border controversy by President David Granger and Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge.
The South American country’s President has been pushing for firmer steps to be taken towards a final resolution of this problem, which Guyana maintains was settled over a hundred years ago. An Arbitral Award of 1899 had outlined the frontier between Venezuela and then British Guiana. Venezuela does not accept this as valid. President Granger, since coming to office in 2015, has said a move to the ICJ is the preferred course of action since years of working through the UN Good Offices process has resulted in no resolution.
Mr. Trotman told OilNOW, “I remain confident in the leadership of the President and Foreign Minister in their steady handling of this delicate matter. This is the first major movement towards a lasting and peaceful resolution in 51 years and it must be recognized.”
The UN’s decision, announced on Tuesday, and Guyana’s preparedness to take its case to court, are the results of working at multiple levels to address the issue, he pointed out. “The strategy of working at various levels – diplomatic, commercial (with ExxonMobil and partners) and national is bearing good results. I will continue to do my part and to make my contribution for my country towards moving from potential to prosperity.”
Meanwhile, Guyana’s former Minister with responsibility for the petroleum sector, Robert Persaud, said in a Facebook post following the announcement of the UN’s decision, that it represents a practical pathway to resolving the controversy.
“A practical pathway to resolving the illegal, illegitimate and farce claims on Guyana’s territory and resources. And certainly a positive development for the long term prospect for the security of Guyana’s oil and gas sector. Time for the entire nation to be unified behind Guyana’s case as it logically goes to the ICJ,” he said.
Venezuela’s territorial claim, which President Nicolás Maduro extended to large swaths of Guyana’s oil-rich maritime area in a decree following ExxonMobil’s first oil discovery in 2015, has for years stymied Guyana’s ability to develop its natural resources.
The South American country of 750,000 people will now be hedging all bets on a final resolution at the ICJ which it is confident will confirm the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.