Guyana wants Venezuela to leave Ankoko, stop threatening companies

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Guyana, in its filing against Venezuela at the International Court of Justice, is asking the body to declare that the Bolivarian Republic immediately withdraw from the eastern half of Ankoko Island and refrain from threatening or using force against companies, reminiscent of the seizure of a vessel contracted by Anadarko in 2013.

The lone English-speaking South American country and new hot-spot in the oil and gas industry reiterated in its court filing that the 1899 Award is valid and binding upon Guyana and Venezuela, and the boundary established by that Award and the 1905 Agreement is valid and binding upon the two countries.

Guyana is asking the ICJ to declare that “Venezuela shall immediately withdraw from and cease its occupation of the eastern half of the Island of Ankoko, and each and every other territory which is recognized as Guyana’s sovereign territory in accordance with the 1899 Award and 1905 Agreement.”

Further to that, Guyana wants Venezuela to “refrain from threatening or using force against any person and/or company licensed by Guyana or engage in economic or commercial activity in Guyanese territory as determined by the 1899 Award and 1905 Agreement, or in any maritime areas appurtenant to such territory over which Guyana has sovereignty or exercises sovereign rights, and shall not interfere with any Guyanese or Guyanese-authorised activities in those areas.”

The MV Teknik Perdana, chartered by Texas-based Company Anadarko, was conducting seismic work off the Guyana coast on October 10, 2013, when it was approached by a Venezuelan navy vessel and forced to sail to Venezuela’s Margarita Island. Five US citizens were among the crew members on board.

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The vast area west of the Essequibo River makes up two-thirds of the territory of Guyana. It has been claimed by Venezuela as its own since the 19th Century, when Guyana was still a British colony. An international arbitral award of October 1899 settled the Venezuelan claim, firmly defining the disputed territory as belonging to Guyana.  The Bolivarian Republic claims that the 1899 award is null and void.

In 2015, Venezuela took a more aggressive stance by declaring ownership of much of Guyana’s maritime space after US oil major, ExxonMobil, discovered large quantities of petroleum 120 miles offshore Guyana.

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The new oil producer on the continent expects that the ICJ proceedings will bring an end to Venezuela’s belated refusal to accept the boundaries outlined in the 1899 Award and a 1905 Agreement.