No further talks yet on CGX oil rig dispute

by Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
November 5, 2000

HEAD of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon has said there has been no talks recently between the governments of Guyana and Suriname on the CGX oil rig dispute and the maritime boundary issues.

There has been no firm commitment from the Suriname administration on Guyana's approaches to address the matter in a collaborative way, he told reporters Friday.

"The new (Suriname) administration, and the realities of dealing with the new administration I think probably would be wearing thin as the expected engagement is being delayed further and further," he said.

He, however, stated that "it is not intended to be a monologue so therefore we must await some signal from our counterparts to renew the discussion on these matters."

Luncheon also told reporters the government will be injecting $545M into the Army.

He pointed out that it was the border dispute which led to the Canadian CGX firm being forced out of Guyana's waters and if the Army was fully capitalised, Suriname would hardly have risked what it did.

Suriname gunboats on June 3 this year evicted the CGX Energy Inc. oil rig from a concession in the Atlantic Ocean which was granted in 1998 by the Guyana Government, triggering a fresh spat centred on a century-old claim by Suriname to the bordering Corentyne River. P

President Bharrat Jagdeo raised the dispute with Suriname over the offshore territory at a meeting of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders in Montego Bay, Jamaica late September.

He said the matter was discussed and a date has to be fixed for meeting new Suriname President Ronald Venetiaan on the issue.

Venetiaan was not at the Jamaica meeting and Mr Jagdeo noted the new Suriname government was giving "heavy focus" to the serious economic problems it inherited.

Mr Jagdeo and Venetiaan also met in Brasilia on the fringes of the conference of South American Presidents hosted by Brazil President Enrique Hernando Cardoso.

The Guyana President earlier in September said they had agreed "there was need to review the current status of the negotiations which had been taking place between the two countries".

CARICOM, to which both countries belong, agreed to mediate talks but the first round under the chairmanship of Jamaica Prime Minister Percival Patterson failed in Kingston in July.

Patterson told the Chronicle Jamaica has been in touch with both countries "to see what we can do to help in lubricating the process."

Jamaica, he said, "stands prepared to offer whatever assistance might be necessary in achieving an early, fair and satisfactory resolution".

Mr Jagdeo told Jamaican journalists he was "encouraged by the attitude" Venetiaan took at the meeting in Brasilia, adding this was "favourable" to reaching an agreement on the disputed offshore territory.

Toronto-based CGX Energy Inc had to pull the American-owned rig from the site after the Jamaica talks failed in July and it has said it may be about two years before a similar rig will be available for drilling in the region.

CGX believes the Eagle site from which its rig was evicted is one of two world class giant oilfields in its 15,464 square kilometre concession.

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