China’s CNOOC makes it clear Guyana assets not in any “disputed” area

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Zhou Xinhua, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CNOOC, said its developments in Guyana are not in any “disputed” area. 

The top official of the 25% Stabroek block stakeholder responded to a question about Guyana’s border controversy with Venezuela during a recent press conference about CNOOC’s 2024 strategy. 

“The Guyana block is one of our most important and highest-quality overseas assets. First, let me clarify one thing. Our current development area is in a location without any disputes,” Zhou said according to an unofficial translation.

Secondly, he said CNOOC will work in sync with its partners and the relevant governments. 

Zhou downplayed the tensions of last year, stating it “only lasted for a few days… and quickly calmed down.” 

The tensions actually lasted from October to December. Venezuela had raised fears it would invade, by gathering troops at the border. Guyana and Venezuela had also gathered troops, weary of an invasion attempt. Tensions only abated when the countries’ Presidents signed the Argyle Declaration in St. Vincent, committing to maintain peace. 

Also, while Exxon’s developments in the Stabroek block may not fall in the area claimed by Venezuela, a large portion of the Stabroek block does. However, Exxon has not explored that area. A survey vessel it contracted was intercepted in 2018 by Venezuela’s military. 

Zhou said CNOOC believes that by adhering to relevant international norms, it can protect its interests in Guyana. ExxonMobil is the operator of the Stabroek block with a 45% stake, while Hess has 30%. The Stabroek block is producing upward of 600,000 barrels per day (b/d) and is on track to double in production by 2027.

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