CGX welcomes progress in Guyana, Suriname talks
Guyana Chronicle
January 23, 2002

THE Canada-based CGX Energy Inc. oil and gas exploration company has welcomed progress in recent talks between Guyana and Suriname which have set the stage for the visit by President Bharrat Jagdeo to the neighbouring country next week.

Guyana and Suriname, in talks last week in the Suriname capital Paramaribo, formally agreed to look at options for joint oil exploration, a decision that could see CGX resume drilling in a concession it has offshore Guyana and fresh interest by several major oil companies in the Guyana-Suriname basin.

Agreement on looking at options for joint oil exploration was reached by the Guyana-Suriname Cooperation Council at a meeting of delegations led by Guyana Foreign Minister, Mr. Rudy Insanally and Suriname Foreign Minister, Ms. Marie Levens.

President Jagdeo is to meet President Ronald Venetiaan and cooperation in oil exploration will be high on their agenda, Insanally told the Chronicle.

CGX President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kerry Sully told the Chronicle, "we are delighted that the countries are on track to resolving the issues on exploration in the area."

"We are looking to an agreement between the two countries. We don't know when that's going to be reached but we are very encouraged with the progress from the meetings (in Paramaribo) last week and the announcements in the media over the weekend", he said in a telephone interview from Canada on Monday.

Insanally, over the weekend, said the visit by his delegation provided a solid basis for the discussions between Presidents Jagdeo and Venetiaan, who now have a framework for their talks and the ability to identify and prioritise specific areas.

He said both countries will need to identify areas that are susceptible to immediate implementation and start to work towards the larger objective of building confidence and trust between the parties. It is important that the peoples of both countries see things working to their benefit, he added.

The mood of the Surinamese delegation during the meetings was "extremely friendly" and a new chapter has been opened in this country's relationship with Suriname, the Foreign Minister said.

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 a CGX oil rig drilling offshore Guyana. 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 has 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.

ENI-Repsol and Exxon are among major oil companies which have been exploring in the Guyana-Suriname basin.