CARACAS Oct 14 Venezuela's and Guyana's foreign
ministers will meet on Thursday to seek a negotiated solution to
the detention of a ship used by a U.S. oil exploration firm in
waters disputed for more than a century by the South American
neighbors, Venezuela said.
The officials have spoken on the phone and will meet on
Thursday in Trinidad and Tobago "in the hope of resolving
diplomatically whatever difference exists between both sides," a
Venezuelan government statement said.
There was no confirmation of the meeting from Guyana.
The government in Georgetown accused Venezuela on Friday of
threatening its national security by evicting the RV Teknik
Perdana survey boat, being used by Texas-based Anadarko
Petroleum Corp, from Guyanese waters.
Venezuela said the ship had violated its waters. Anadarko
was not immediately available to comment.
Oil exploration has fanned the flames of the old territorial
dispute, and the incident did not appear linked to the socialist
Venezuelan government's antipathy toward Washington. The United
States and Venezuela have just expelled the others' top
The boat has been taken to the Venezuelan island of
Margarita. Its Ukrainian captain Igor Bekirov was due to appear
in court "in a few hours" to face charges of violating
Venezuelan waters, local judicial authorities said.
Guyana awarded Anadarko Petroleum a deep-water, exploration
license in June last year for a block named Roraima, although
details of the concession have not been revealed.
Oil companies have been increasingly interested in the
northeastern shoulder of South America since a discovery off
nearby French Guyana in 2011 that industry experts described as
a game-changer for the region's energy prospects.
Venezuela and Guyana have long argued about the status of
the disputed Essequibo region, an area on the border about the
size of the U.S. state of Georgia, and over rights to the ocean
resources that lie offshore. Venezuela calls it a "reclamation
zone," but in practice it functions as Guyanese territory.
Critics of President Nicolas Maduro, who replaced the late
Hugo Chavez as Venezuela's leader after winning an election
earlier this year, say he is exploiting international incidents
to try and distract attention from domestic woes.