…news broken by Venezuelan media
…to return early 2016 – ExxonMobil
As reports surfaced that US oil giant ExxonMobil has removed its oil drilling ship, the Deepwater Champion, from offshore
Essequibo, officials are insisting that the relentless aggression from Venezuela did not influence this decision.
Government, however, had failed to inform the Guyanese public of this development which occurred in early June. Reports in the Venezuelan media suggested that the Venezuelans understood that the drilling rig only left Guyana’s waters in the past few days. It would have been following the departure of ExxonMobil’s rig that, for instance, Venezuela confirmed the cancellation of the PetroCaribe rice deal with Guyana.
Guyana Times tried to make contact with Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman to find out why the public was not informed of this development when it had happened, but all calls made to his phone went unanswered. It was the arrival of ExxonMobil Deepwater Champion oil drilling rig/ship that had precipitated Venezuela’s latest revival of its controversy over our western border.
ExxonMobil Country Manager Jeff Simons told Guyana Times on Sunday during a telephone interview that the vessel had left Guyana’s waters since June and was now anchored in the Gulf of Mexico. He, however, quickly pointed out that this was not an unusual practice for the company.
“The vessel had completed the works it was doing on the Liza-1 well … it was always planned for the vessel to go there…we are planning for future drilling. We have collected enough information and data and we just in a planning stage right now,” he explained.
Simons stressed that the Deepwater Champion had completed its course of operation and the ongoing border controversy between Venezuela and Guyana regarding ownership of the Essequibo and the waters off its shore (where ExxonMobil is drilling) did not pressure the Company into removing the vessel.
He explained that at this stage, the company would be analysing its findings and planning for another period of drilling which should commence early in 2016.
“We are planning to return early next year or maybe sooner but we will return,” the Country Manager assured, noting that ExxonMobil is ecstatic about its discovery of hydrocarbons and oil-bearing rocks in the Stabroek Block.
In May, ExxonMobil announced its findings of more than 295 feet of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs.
Recent reports predict that this find could see Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) escalating to 12 times its current figure, which is transformational for any developing country.
Guyana’s GDP stands at around US$3.23 billion.
Venezuela is happy
In light of the reports emanating from the Venezuelan media that the oil company decided to withdraw from its operations, Minister of Governance and Patrimony, Raphael Trotman told another section of the media that the company’s action was “not irregular”.
That media outlet reported that the removal of the drilling vessel follows an “increase in activity in the Stabroek Block where seismic vessels were conducting exploratory works to determine if there are other commercially viable oil reserves in the immediate areas”. Trotman also confirmed the seismic works currently being done in the Stabroek block in the vicinity of the Liza-1 well, which has been capped, it was reported.
According to Venezuelan media, the President of the Venezuelan Chapter of the Latin American Parliament, Ángel Rodríguez, said that the Venezuelan Government “welcomed” this decision.
In early March, the oil and gas company, one of the largest in the world, was warned by the Spanish-speaking nation to refrain from going ahead with its planned exploratory drilling activity, on a concession awarded by Guyana offshore its Essequibo Coast.
Venezuela has repeatedly laid claim to the area being explored, ignoring an 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award, which was declared as the full and final settlement of the boundary between the two South American nations. Following the discovery of oil-bearing rocks in the area, Venezuela’s aggression grew stronger.
However, ExxonMobil assured that it will not be intimidated by the country’s claims and will continue its work in Guyana’s offshore waters.
The multibillion-dollar oil exploration project, which is expected to be executed over 10 years, got underway in early March.