Guyana plans to resume land exploration

Prevented from pursuing offshore oil exploration by border disputes with both Suriname and Venezuela, Guyana is resuming its 76-year land search for commercial oil deposits.

Nov 11th, 2002

By OGJ editors

PORT OF SPAIN, Nov. 11 -- Prevented from pursuing offshore oil exploration by border disputes with both Suriname and Venezuela, Guyana is resuming its 76-year land search for commercial oil deposits.

The Guyana government signaled its intention to offer the 10,000 sq km Takutu basin in the south, located 500 km from the coast and east of Brazil, the only one of Guyana's three neighbors that is not claiming part of its territory. Robeson Benn, commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), told OGJ applications for prospective licenses are available "on a first-come basis."

Guyana does not have bid rounds and prefers one-on-one negotiations with companies.

Benn said hydrocarbons had already been discovered in the area.

Meanwhile, Guyana is not giving up its offshore oil exploration rights, despite border disputes with its neighbors. "There is no intention to abandon resources which are ours by right of sovereign jurisdiction," said Benn.

Suriname, which has both land and marine border disputes with Guyana, sent a gunboat to expel employees of a small Canadian company, CGX Energy Inc., from a drilling site in the Corentyne block. That dispute is still to be resolved by the Joint Border Commission (JBC) set up by the two countries. Benn said the JBC should have already come up with "provisional arrangements of a practical nature," which would facilitate resumption of field activity in the disputed area.

A JBC subcommittee has completed a confidential report that is expected to be studied by commissioners within weeks. There also are international laws and conventions—to which Guyana and Suriname are signatories—that could help resolve disputes between the two countries.

A border dispute with Venezuela also has preempted exploration on the Pomeroon and Stabroek concessions off Guyana.

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