With continuing acts of aggression by Venezuela, the Guyana Government is looking to expand the range of foreign interests operating offshore as a strategic measure.
At a forum hosted by the Trades Union Congress Thursday, Minister of Foreign Carl Greenidge said the Government was considering various international companies in the award of future contracts.
As a matter of policy, the Government has determined not to grant future oil blocks to companies in a way that would see any single country dominating the oil-rich area offshore Guyana.
“What we have done in recent times has also been to emphasise that the interest in Guyana is in internationalising activity on the shelf.
“And if the Ministry of Natural Resources is asked to explain, they would tell you that Foreign Affairs has always insisted that in our policies in the allocation and apportionment of licenses that we seek to internationalise the shelf,” the Foreign Minister stated.
He said that there are a number of companies other than American companies that the Government is considering.
“The fact that all of them at this point in time don’t have licences is more an operational matter rather than a policy matter,” he said.
He said Chevron has applied and that “that is something still in the process.”
“You have also Irish company which is interested and has a license to operate within the maritime zone to undertake survey work and they had undertaken to do some drilling this year.
“So there are a number of others.
“The intention here is to ensure that we don’t fall victim to the story fabricated Venezuela that this is an issue of a stupid set of colonial people in Guyana who are led by the nose by a big oil company.”
Over the years, Greenidge said that Guyana has pursued cooperation with a number of countries.
“We have worked with a number of countries and companies – US, China, Cuba, Estonia, Caribbean countries and the others.
“This is the way you show yourself as politically neutral and pursuing your own interest,” he stated.
According to Greenidge, the intention is to ensure that Guyana does not fall victim to the story fabricated by Venezuela that ExxonMobil is leading Guyana by the nose.
He said that Guyana, as a small state, must give priority to non-military means of resolving problems.
But in the end, he said, even if you have military capacity, “the protection that you have against bullies, in the international arena depends upon how the rest of the world supports you, how they see your case. “
“Many countries might be inclined to overrun their neighbours – large states have that temptation.
“But not many of them want to suffer the fate of Iraq, for example, which was a large, very powerful, very, very wealthy country until they overran Kuwait and look at the state of that country today.”
Guyana has a border with Venezuela stretching 470 miles.
Greenidge said Guyana was not depending on any one country for backing on the issue.
“The world is not a world made up of saints; countries pursue their own interests.”
The Norwegian seismic vessel Ramform Tethys has not returned to the area where they were ordered out by Venezuelan navy on December 22.
“The vessels have not returned to the area, but we are not speaking in absolutes here.
“They haven’t returned to the area; it doesn’t mean they can’t return in the future.”
Greenidge said the Venezuelans were notified on the December 6 and 7 that the seismic work was going to take place.
“They said nothing and the work started and they did nothing but when they did move was immediately after this internal problem,” he said, referring to the December 21 passage of the No Confidence motion in the National Assembly.
As such, for protection, the Minister said Guyana has chosen to depend heavily on institutional and political means at the international level.