July 18, 2024

Maduro affirms intention to prohibit ExxonMobil operations in disputed Guyanese region


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has issued a stern declaration to prevent US energy giant ExxonMobil from conducting operations in the waters adjacent to the oil-rich Essequibo region, which Venezuela contends as its own despite Guyana’s claim.

Alistair Routledge, the head of ExxonMobil operations in Guyana, recently unveiled plans to initiate exploratory drilling for two wells off the coast of Essequibo, citing the absence of existing infrastructure in the area as a motivating factor for development.

In televised remarks on Monday, President Maduro unequivocally stated, “ExxonMobil is not entering this sea… they should know that,” reaffirming Venezuela’s opposition to any incursions into the contested territory.

The dispute over the Essequibo region, constituting approximately two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, has escalated as Guyana began granting licenses to oil companies for exploration and production activities, prompting heightened rhetoric from Caracas.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino previously warned via social media platform X (formerly Twitter) that ExxonMobil would face a “proportional, forceful response” should it proceed with drilling activities in the disputed waters.

While Guyana has administered Essequibo for over a century, tensions have surged, particularly since Maduro orchestrated a contentious non-binding referendum in December, garnering overwhelming support for the establishment of a Venezuelan province in the region, raising concerns of potential military conflict.

Despite both nations pledging last year to seek a peaceful resolution through the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Guyana’s Foreign Minister Hugh Todd expressed apprehension over Venezuela’s diplomatic and military maneuvers, citing inconsistencies and pointing to satellite imagery depicting troop movements and military buildup near the border.

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