Guyana explores area in Venezuelan Atlantic front
Operations in the Stabroek block came to a standstill due to a protest in 2000
Exxon Mobil and Shell have reactivated exploration works in a block awarded by Guyana offshore Venezuela's Atlantic front, halted following a protest by Venezuela in 1999-2000.
This is the case of the Stabroek block, where the oil multinationals ended the seismic survey and started drilling. Last January, Guyana's President Donald Ramotar met with Exxon Mobil officials to discuss the work progress.
The block does not only occupy a portion of the sea area of the disputed area, but also Venezuela's Atlantic front, offshore Delta Amacuro.
The Guyanese government awarded the concession to Exxon Mobil in 1999. This, in addition to the concession for the Pomeroom block on behalf of Canadian CGX, caused a strenuous response from the Venezuelan government.
Aníbal Martínez, the president of the Venezuelan Oil Advocacy Front, explained that in such "hostile action" in 1999, Guyana awarded concessions on 60% of Venezuela's Atlantic front. Venezuela challenged the move by diplomatic means. Moreover, the Venezuelan Oil Advocacy Front, together with Venezuela's Ministry of Energy and Mines, reported the case at the World Petroleum Congress held in Calgary, Canada, in June 2000, and later in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in September 2002.
As regards the Pomeroon block, the CGX did not even begin the works. On the other block, though, there was resistance.
In August 2000, Exxon Mobil rebuked the remarks by then Venezuelan Foreign Minister José Vicente Rangel, who strongly recommended the company to pull out of the Stabroek block. "We are aware of the comments made by the Foreign Minister, yet we have not plans to relinquish that concession," Exxon Mobil Spokesman Bob Davis told international agencies on that occasion.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
As late as Tuesday, February 25, there was some visible response from Gabriela Ramírez's office. Representatives of the Office of the Ombudswoman would visit independent human rights watch groups to find what happened in connection with repression of protests. That day, they visited NGO Provea. The next day, they met with the attorneys of NGO Venezuelan Criminal Forum. They pursued specific data because -they argued- no claims of human rights violations of demonstrators had been filed with the Office of the Ombudswoman.