Dec 02, 2017 News
Guyana has denied using ‘special funds’ set aside by United States oil giant, ExxonMobil, to pay legal fees to settle the long-standing border dispute with Venezuela. This dispute could be headed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“I am not aware of Exxon helping Guyana at all in this regard,” said Raphael Trotman, Natural Resources Minister with responsibility for the oil and gas sector.
Reports have suggested that ExxonMobil, which has ongoing disputes arising from nationalisations of the company’s assets under Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez, had provided close to US$20 million to help Guyana win its case.
Further reports have indicated that under the People’s Progressive Party administration, Guyana took this route before, utilising funds from CGX Energy after an incident involving the oil company and Surinamese coastguard in 2000.
Minister Trotman told Kaieteur News yesterday that there is a difference using money received from the company and using or working with the company to advance a diplomatic initiative.
This is not the first time that the US$20 million figure has been floated publicly. Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, has denied that ExxonMobil provided the Guyana Government with a signing bonus of US$20 million.
“It would be wrong for Guyana to use Exxon for such a purpose but quite appropriate and right to use earnings for the protection and safeguarding of its sovereignty,” Minister Trotman noted.
The Minister said, “What perhaps is more likely is Guyana using proceeds from its earnings from Exxon to fortify its positions viz-a-viz the challenge by Venezuela to the 1899 arbitral award. Guyana’s strength and success has always been its use of diplomacy and the skillful use of its assets there.”
On December 16, 2016, UN Secretary-General at the time, Ban Ki-Moon decided that the existing UN Good Offices process which began in 1990 in order to find a solution to the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy would conclude at the end of 2017.
If, by the end of 2017, no significant progress has been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he will choose the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the next means of settlement, unless the governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly request that he refrain from doing so.”
The UN had promised there was no progress with the Good Officer’s process by the end of this year, it would be recommending that the issue be referred to the International Court.
Guyana has maintained that the international court is the best way to resolve the dispute.
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