Venezuela fired back at Guyana over an incident in disputed Atlantic waters, demanding a “satisfactory explanation” from its neighbor for allowing oil vessels in what it said was its Exclusive Economic Zone.
Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that one of its navy patrol ships detected and intercepted the Panama-flagged Teknik Perdana the day before while it was conducting “illegal” seismic surveying activities in its EEZ, adding that the ship had been hired by the Guyanese authorities to conduct oil-exploration activities.
Venezuela expressed its “most energetic protest” and “profound concern” about “foreign ships authorized by the Guyanese government entering (its territorial waters) without due authorization.”
Prior to the statement, Guyana’s government had accused the Venezuelan navy of detaining the oil ship, which was conducting seismic survey work under contract for U.S.-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp., in its territorial waters and escorting the ship and its crew to Venezuela’s Margarita Island.
It called the incident a “threat to peace” in the region.
Guyana said it became “clear the vessel and its crew were not only being escorted out of Guyana’s waters, but were under arrest. These actions by the Venezuelan naval vessel are unprecedented in Guyana-Venezuela relations,” the statement said.
“Guyana intends to employ all peaceful means to facilitate a return to the status quo ante since neither the Venezuelan frigate, the agents of Venezuela, its government nor any other state has the authority to exercise any action in Guyana’s territorial waters, its continental shelf or its exclusive economic zone without its express consent,” Georgetown said.
Anadarko holds a prospecting license for a block located in Guyanese waters off the coast of the state of Roraima, which, according to Georgetown, is where the ship was when the incident occurred.
Venezuela’s navy, therefore, “acted in contravention of the laws of Guyana and indeed international law,” Guyanese authorities said.