Kaieteur News – While Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, plans to expel duly licensed oil companies from Guyana’s territory in exchange for that country’s own oil exploration company, Guyana’s petroleum laws render any such potential move illegal. This has been reinforced by recent measures from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which prohibit Venezuela from interfering with Guyana’s administration and control of the Essequibo region.
The Petroleum Activities Act 2023 of Guyana states, “A person who carries out petroleum operations without a licence or permit issued under this Act commits an offence…”
Stringent penalties are also outlined in the law. In the case of an individual, a fine of GY$15 million would be meted out, and an additional GY$5 million a day, for every day the offence continues, plus imprisonment for three years.
In the case of a company, the fine would be GY$30 million, with GY$10 million added per day, for every day the offence continues. Where the offence is committed by a company, the penalties for individuals would also apply to the director(s), secretary and/or other officer(s) of the company who consent to the unlawful act.
Given that Maduro has instructed PDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company, to pursue exploration activities in Guyana’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) through a subsidiary called Essequibo subsidiary, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali would be within his right – grounded in sacred international law – to penalize the company and its principals, should they commit any such infraction.
He has even audaciously sought to order companies operating Guyana concessions to leave the area within three months, and plans to introduce a law that restricts such companies from ever being licenced to operate in the territory again.
Guyanese authorities such as Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, have said Venezuela’s proposed new laws and actions have no legality in the territory of another state.
Venezuela also has little to no hope of securing contracts with any reputable international oil company to explore a territory that, by virtue of international law, belongs to another State.
Guyana’s Ministry of Natural Resources is the only body entrusted with the power to issue oil and gas exploration and production licences in Guyana’s sovereign territory, by virtue of the Petroleum Activities Act.
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