Guyana says Venezuela navy evicted survey ship from its waters

Reuters

By Neil Marks

BRIDGETOWN, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Guyana's government said onFriday the navy of neighboring Venezuela had evicted a ship usedby a U.S. oil exploration company from Guyanese waters, callingthe move unprecedented and a serious threat to security.

The Venezuela authorities, meanwhile, accused the surveyship, which was being used by Texas-based Anadarko PetroleumCorp, of violating its territorial waters.

A border dispute has simmered between the two South Americancountries for more than a century and oil exploration has onlyfanned the flames.

Guyana's foreign ministry said a Venezuelan naval vessel onThursday ordered the RV Teknik Perdana to stop surveying andthen escorted it to the Venezuelan island of Margarita.

"The actions taken by the Venezuelan navy vessel constitutea serious threat to the peace of this sub-region," Guyana'sforeign ministry said in a statement.

"It was...clear the vessel and its crew were not only beingescorted out of Guyana's waters, but were under arrest. Theseactions by the Venezuelan naval vessel are unprecedented."

The Venezuelan government also demanded an explanation.

"Venezuela expresses its profound concern about the way inwhich foreign vessels, authorized by Guyana's government, bargeinto Venezuela's territorial waters and exclusive economic zonewithout permission," Venezuela's foreign ministry said.

Both sides stressed that they wanted a peaceful resolution.

Guyana awarded Anadarko Petroleum Corp a deep-water,exploration license in June last year for a block named Roraima,although details of the concession have not been revealed.

Oil companies have been increasingly interested in thenortheastern shoulder of South America since a discovery offnearby French Guyana in 2011 that industry experts described asa game-changer for the region's energy prospects.

Venezuela and Guyana have long argued about the status ofthe disputed Essequibo region, an area on the border about thesize of the U.S. state of Georgia, and over rights to the oceanresources that lie offshore. Venezuela calls it a "reclamationzone," but in practice it functions as Guyanese territory.

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