President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge said Tuesday that the company was largely unfazed by Venezuela’s aggressions last year because it believes its contracts in Guyana are “valid.”
And now that tensions between the two states have subsided, the ExxonMobil boss noted that the company believes Guyana is engaged in “healthy” cooperation with nations like the United States (US).
“I think when we hear the rhetoric that we heard in the fourth quarter (of 2023), a lot of people get nervous but I would say that ExxonMobil has the comfort that we believe that the contracts that we have with the country (are) valid.
“Under the local law and international law, we have valid rights to the blocks that we are participating in and the issues between the countries have to be dealt with as it has been done: between the governments of the two countries,” Routledge said on Tuesday at a press conference held at the company’s Kingston, Georgetown headquarters.
Last year, Venezuela went ahead with its December 3 referendum that involved Guyana’s Essequibo region even though the International Court of Justice (ICJ) asked it to refrain from taking any actions that would aggravate the situation.
Following that referendum, the country’s President Nicolas Maduro issued a redrawn Venezuelan map that included the Essequibo region. He also ordered the creation of new entities to grant licences for oil, gas and mines exploration in the Essequibo region; he proposed the creation of a new law to establish new environmentally protected areas that could be centres for tourism and biodiversity. He also told investors to leave Guyana.
The issue was, however, quelled following a meeting between President Maduro and Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Both sides agreed to avoid threatening or using force against each other. And both sides have been working towards strengthening neighbourly relations.
Guyana has, nevertheless, been beefing up its security capabilities and engaging in robust diplomatic discussions globally.
Asked if Guyana’s engagements with the US bring some level of comfort to ExxonMobil and its shareholders, Routledge acknowledged that Guyana’s global prominence has been increasing, particularly due to its role as a new energy provider. And that, he said, has brought more attention to the country.
“I think the collaboration that we’re seeing for Guyana with other countries on the military front as well as on the diplomatic and economic fronts reflects that.
“I think it is a healthy thing and I think it is good for the western hemisphere that we see those kinds of collaborations,” he said.
In December, before the Presidents’ meeting, ExxonMobil’s Chief Executive Officer, Darren Woods addressed the situation in an interview with CNBC.
Asked about any concerns the company might have should Maduro increase aggression, Woods said: “I’m not sure Guyana is standing on its own, to tell you the truth.”
“We’ve all seen what happens when nations’ sovereignties are challenged and unilateral actions are taken. The world and outside community have grown pretty sensitive to that, so my expectation is that there is more broad support in the international community to ensure that the processes are followed to resolve this dispute.”
Woods, during his December interview with CNBC, and Routledge, at the press conference, both stressed ExxonMobil’s long term commitment to Guyana.