Suriname objects to CGX oil exploration

Stabroek News
May 31, 2000

The oil rig contracted by CGX Energy Inc has arrived off the coast of South America but a dispute is brewing with Suriname over which country's waters it will be exploring in.

The Suriname daily De Ware Tijd's online edition reported yesterday that the rig had arrived at its destination. It could not be confirmed yesterday with CGX if its rig had indeed arrived in its designated position.

The newspaper claimed that Guyana had ignored a diplomatic note from Paramaribo sent through Guyana's Ambassador in Suriname, Karshanjee Arjun, asking for clarification about the exploration of oil fields in the area.

When contacted by telephone in Suriname last night, Ambassador Arjun acknowledged the newspaper report but declined to comment, telling Stabroek News that it was being handled at the government level.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said last night he was not aware of the development but stated that he presumed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would deal with such matters if they arose.

Efforts were made yesterday to contact Guyana's Foreign Affairs Minister Clement Rohee but they did not bear fruit. A message was left with the minister's secretary.

The rig was reported to have arrived in Suriname last week.

According to the newspaper, an official of the political party HPP, Nikita Menckeberg, said he was told by a high-ranking Surinamese National Army officer that the army did some preliminary investigation and found that the rig was indeed in Suriname's waters.

CGX holds a 100% interest in a 15,464 square kilometres exploration concession in Guyana. In June last year, Exxon acquired the deep water concession to the north of the CGX acreage. This was followed by the Shell/Burlington Resources/Total/KNOC consortium licensing adjacent acreage to the east in Suriname. YPF/Maxus has acreage to the north-west of the CGX block.

De Ware Tijd said there was no official reply yet from the Guyana government to the diplomatic note. It said that on the day the note was presented to Ambassador Arjun, acting Surinamese Foreign Affairs Minister, Errol Alibux, had said a reply was expected in a day.

Menckeberg was reported to have said that the Surinamese army wanted to be kept informed on the issue and had expressed its willingness to investigate further together with experts from the party.

CGX had contracted R&B Falcon's C.E. Thornton jack-up drilling rig, to drill its Eagle target in the Corentyne concession. The rig departed Italy in April and arrived in Trinidad earlier this month for minor re-fitting.

CGX recently raised some US$9.5 million which, with its current cash position of US$3.4 million, would enable it to embark on a two-well exploration programme.

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