Unidentified Venezuelan Navy vessels have intercepted a research vessel operating in Guyana waters under a contract with ExxonMobil.
Guyana’s foreign ministry said the Ramform Tethys was intercepted by the Venezuelan navy at 10.30 hours on Saturday December 22, 2018.
The vessel, flagged by the government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, was contracted to conduct seismic work by Exxon Mobil and had a total of seventy crew members on board including the captain.
It was intercepted in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana at a position of N 09 deg 17.19 min / W 058 deg 16.20 min at an approximate distance of 140 Km from the nearest point to the provisional equidistant line with Venezuela.
Venezuela’s foreign ministry said that its navy detected an “unprecedented presence in Venezuelan jurisdictional waters of two seismic exploration vessels” during the daily patrolling activities. The vessels were identified as Ramform Tethys and Delta Monarch. The ministry said that the vessels were located “within the Orinoco River Delta maritime waters, over which Venezuela undoubtedly has unquestionable sovereignty.”
Venezuelan ministry claimed that Guyana has no jurisdiction over the maritime area of the Orinoco River Delta citing that as the reason for stopping Guyana’s activities.
The US State Department issued a statement on December 22 stating that “Guyana has the sovereign right to explore and exploit resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone.” The statement further called on Venezuela to respect international law and the rights of its neighbors.