Reports indicate that Venezuela has signaled its intention to remap its Caribbean oil and gas prospects which is a move that could further escalate rising tensions between that country and neighbouring Guyana, which has of late become an oil and gas ‘province’ of interest.
The two South American countries have had a longstanding border controversy dating back over a century and which is now engaging the attention of the International Court of Justice.
Bloomberg said in a January 9 report that Venezuela has mapped its offshore territory for oil deposits in the past, “but some areas remain uncharted.” It said too that the new survey will also include areas bordering Caribbean islands such as Grenada and Saint Vincent.
Antero Alvarado, a managing partner at consulting firm Gas Energy Latin America, is quoted as saying, “More surveys are pending to identify commercially viable options for gas. Past PDVSA studies ignored identifying gas deposits because the focus was always on oil.’’
According to the Bloomberg article, a seismic survey is planned for the coming months “and will include an eastern area of Venezuela that borders Guyana, the people said, asking not to be named because the plan isn’t public.” That report further said that officials at state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, declined to comment.
The controversy was reignited on December 22, 2018 when the Venezuelan navy intercepted two seismic survey vessels under contract by ExxonMobil to conduct exploration activities in Guyana waters. It was reported that the Venezuelan navy attempted to land a chopper on one of the survey vessels, the Ramform Tethys. On board were 70 persons.
The Government of Guyana has since lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations over what it has described as an “illegal, aggressive and hostile act” perpetrated by the Government of Venezuela.
According to Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Carl Greenidge, Guyana has informed Venezuela that it will not be intimidated by that country’s heightened hostility and stressed that Guyana will continue to pursue its economic development agenda.
ExxonMobil and its joint venture partners HESS and CNOOC Nexen on December 3, 2018, made their tenth discovery on the Stabroek Block, bringing the total recoverable resources to over five billion barrels of oil equivalent. Production is slated to commence by early 2020.