Guyana, Suriname to look at joint oil exploration options
Guyana Chronicle
January 17, 2002

GUYANA and Suriname have formally agreed to look at options for joint oil exploration, the two countries announced yesterday.

Agreement on this was reached by the Guyana-Suriname Cooperation Council which met in the Suriname capital, Paramaribo Tuesday and yesterday.

A joint statement from the meeting said the two parties agreed that petroleum exploration should be discussed by the Border Commission of the two countries "so that technical issues can be properly addressed."

The Border Commission is to continue deliberations on this issue and "options for cooperation in this area" would be presented to the Presidents of the two countries, the statement said.

President Bharrat Jagdeo is to visit Suriname for talks with President Ronald Venetiaan on January 31 and cooperation in oil exploration will be high on their agenda, Foreign Minister, Rudy Insanally had told the Chronicle last week.

Suriname Foreign Minister, Ms. Marie Levens was here last week on a two-day working visit as the two sides lay the groundwork for the meeting between the two presidents.

Progress on oil exploration is regarded as significant because relations between the two South American republics chilled in June 2000 when Suriname gunboats chased out an oil rig drilling offshore Guyana in a concession granted to the Canadian-based CGX Energy Inc. oil and gas exploration company.

Suriname claimed the rig was in its territory but Guyana strongly disputed this.

Mediation efforts by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) of which both are members failed to resolve the controversy but a change of government in Suriname later in 2000 saw new President Venetiaan willing to discuss proposed joint exploration and development of the disputed territory with Guyana as the two move to resolve the border problems.

Insanally had declined to say whether the CGX problem would be raised at the talks but told the Chronicle, "cooperating in the area of petroleum exploration will feature importantly on the agenda" when Mr. Jagdeo meets Venetiaan.

CGX believes its reserves contain huge world class oil deposits which can benefit both countries and has maintained interest in resuming drilling.

Guyana had previously tabled detailed proposals on joint exploration, exploitation and management of the offshore area.

The Border Commission is also meeting in Paramaribo week.

Insanally told the Chronicle the discussions between Mr. Jagdeo and Venetiaan "will depend quite a lot on what comes out of our meetings (with Levens)" and the meetings of the two bodies this week.

He said then he and Levens "are trying to provide a foundation for the meeting" of the two presidents.

Insanally and Levens co-chaired the Cooperation Council meeting in Paramaribo which comprehensively examined all areas of cooperation and identified those with the "potential for immediate implementation (and) early action", the agreed minutes said.

It said the objective of the meeting was to create a framework of general agreements of cooperation in which expert groups would meet according to a specified timetable.

The two Foreign Ministers agreed to expand and intensify cooperation in rice.

Fisheries and tourism were also listed as areas for cooperation and both countries would be moving to expand trade.

They have agreed that it is necessary to cooperate in cross border trade and will intensify cooperation among customs authorities and have closer collaboration and regular meetings between customs and immigration officials.

The minutes said the two countries are to consider setting up a joint security programme on trans-boundary crime.

The ministers agreed that consideration would be given to designate the Ogle Airport, East Coast Demerara, as a point of entry for small aircraft from Suriname.