Sub-committee looking at joint exploitation meets this week
Stabroek News
July 21, 2002

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The sub-committee of the Guyana and Suriname border commissions looking at best practices in the joint exploitation and management of resources in disputed maritime areas will meet again this week in Paramaribo.

Stabroek News understands that Guyana will be represented by a seven-member team comprising Director General, Elisabeth Harper, Ambassador Rudy Collins, Legal consultants Dr Barton Scotland and Rosemary Cadogan, Head of the Petroleum Unit, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Newell Dennison and State Counsel in the Attorney General Chambers, Damone Younge.

The meeting is a continuation of the June 25-26 meeting held here that looked at a number of practices identified by both sides. The sub-committee's mandate is to look at best practices around the world and to make recommendation to the National Border Commissions. The commissions will meet in Georgetown from July 29 to August 1. The sub-committee and border commissions' meetings should have been held before mid-May, according to an agreement President Bharrat Jagdeo concluded with his Suriname counterpart, President Ronald Venetiaan during his State visit to Suriname in January. However, the first meeting was not held until last month.

During the recent CARICOM Summit, President Venetiaan told reporters that joint development of the maritime resources at the mouth of the Corentyne River was a complicated issue "because of the divergence in what people think they know best to be the estuary of the river.

"Let me say this ... the situation in both countries is such that we have to move very carefully with this issue because there is strong opposition in both countries to the idea of even discussing joint exploration, not say joint exploitation, joint development."

President Venetiaan at the press conference agreed that exploitation of any potential energy sources offshore Guyana and Suriname would help to promote the economic and political stability of the community.

However, he said that in cases where there were border disputes, efforts would have to be made to ensure that joint exploitation to bring stability to the region did not generate instability between the two countries.

He said that the strong opposition to the idea in both countries "can lead to political instability in any of the two countries and that would not serve the process of [promoting] economic and political stability in the region."

However, President Venetiaan asserted that he and President Jagdeo have pledged to move forward as neighbours to solve the issues arising from their countries' colonial heritage. Asked in Paramaribo about this opposition in Guyana to joint exploitation and development pending the resolution of the maritime border dispute, President Jagdeo at the press conference in Paramaribo where the agreement to look at the possibility for joint exploitation was announced declined to name the groups opposing the idea. President Venetiaan's comments were against the background of the offer by the Trinidad and Tobago government to provide Guyana and a number of other CARICOM states with natural gas under an arrangement that would reduce their energy bills by 30 per cent. Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister told reporters that the offer was being made in an effort to promote political and economic stability as well as spur another wave of industrialization in the region.