San Juan, Sept 19 (EFE).- Guyanese President Irfaan Ali said Tuesday that Guyana has the right to develop its resources in any part of its territory, after Venezuela had rejected the recent auction of oil blocks in a disputed maritime area.
The Venezuelan government, on a statement issued earlier on Tuesday, called the bidding round “illegal” because the oil blocks are located in the disputed zone between the two countries, an area of 160,000 square kilometers.
The Guyanese leader said in his statement that the territory claimed by Venezuela, located west of the Essequibo River, belongs to Guyana.
“The Government of Guyana reserves the right to carry out economic development activities in any part of its sovereign territory or any corresponding maritime territory,” he said.
“Any unilateral attempt by Venezuela to restrict Guyana’s exercise of its sovereignty is totally inconsistent with the Geneva Accord and the international rule of law,” he added.
The Venezuelan statement had said that “The Government of Guyana does not possess sovereign rights over these maritime areas and, consequently, any action within its boundaries is in violation of international law, as long as they are not carried out through an agreement with Venezuela.”
Venezuela claims the Essequibo region, which amounts to approximately 70% of Guyana’s territory, including offshore oil reserves, and argues that a 1899 arbitration ruling is null and void.
Currently, the Venezuelan government is preparing to present a defense before the International Court of Justice, which declared last April that it has jurisdiction to rule on the dispute between Venezuela and Guyana.
The first round of bidding for Guyana’s oil blocks closed on September 12, and the result was hailed as a “success” by Vice President and head of the oil sector, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Six companies, including US-based ExxonMobil, submitted bids for eight of the 14 blocks up for auction.EFE