Oil Provokes Diplomatic Spat Between Venezuela and Guyana

Tensions between Venezuela and Guyana rose this week following a Guyanese statement rejecting Venezuelan claims to a disputed maritime territory where Exxon Mobil has discovered oil. 

A discovery of oil in disputed territory set off a diplomatic dispute between Venezuela and Guyana this week. 
Delcy Rodriguez, the Venezuelan minister for foreign affairs, considers a statement by the new Guyanese government over a territorial dispute a “provocation” and called on her counterpart to participate in dialogue with Venezuela to resolve the dispute. 
“It is unacceptable that the new government of Guyana take this position with a territory that is under dispute, and who has also expressly recognized that this area of the sea is subject to an amicable settlement of territorial claims, as envisaged in the Geneva Agreement,” Rodriguez said in a statement Tuesday. 
On Monday, Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Venezuela a “threat to regional peace and security” over a recent decree that reasserted Venezuela’s right to an area of the sea that Guyana claims as theirs. The border and maritime dispute is over a century old, with Venezuela laying claim to the territory west of the Essequibo river, having been taken from Venezuela in 1899. 
Transnational oil company Exxon Mobil recently reported that it had made a significant oil discovery in the disputed area, after being given permission to explore through an agreement with Guyana. 
“It worth noting that the only surprising threat is that the government of Guyana allowed a powerful transnational (company) such as Exxon Mobil to venture into territory disputed between two countries,” read the statement by Rodriguez. 
Guyana also stated that an attempt by Venezuela to enforce its claims to the disputed area would be “vigorously resisted.” 
Rodriguez took exception at the aggressive tone of the statement by Guyana, saying it “exhibits a dangerous provocative policy against the peaceful Bolivarian (Republic of) Venezuela, backed by the imperial power of a U.S. transnational, Exxon Mobil, which should be rectified immediately.” 
Rodriguez highlighted the diplomatic efforts of Venezuelan in the Caribbean, including the Petrocaribe initiative, which provides oil at preferential rates to countries throughout the region. 
The foreign minister reiterated Venezuela’s “feelings and desire for peace for the brother people of Guyana” and invited her counterpart to meet so the countries could overcome the disagreement through dialogue. 
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also weighed in on the dispute, rejecting the role of Exxon Mobil in dividing the two nations and calling for dialogue. 
“The only mechanisms that can and will lead us to a definitive solution to this historic dispute are those of respect for international agreements and international law.”
“Exxon Mobil through its influence and power is responsible for all of the [Guyanese] provocation launched against Venezuela,” stated the socialist leader in a live television broadcast on Wednesday. 
A coalition of political parties ended the 23-year rule of the People’s Progressive Party in Guyana last month, winning the election with a narrow margin of 5,000 votes.
With additional reporting by Venezuelanalysis.com.