Suriname Calls for Halt of Guyana Exploration Plans

A Surinamese lawmaker has asked the government to examine neighboring Guyana's oil exploration plans and demanded that Guyana stop its oil-related activities. In her letter Monday to President Ronald Venetiaan and the National Assembly, Yvonne Ravales-Resida said she "just cannot believe that, during the visit of Guyana's head of state, President Bharrat Jagdeo, to Suriname, both presidents signed an agreement in which they state that both countries will do joint oil exploration -- and now Guyana grants permission on its own again in our waters." In an earlier press release, CGX Energy announced that it had entered into an agreement with AGIP Guyana BV, a unit of AGIP Italy, to acquire AGIP's entire 25 percent participating interest in the Georgetown Block, located offshore in the Guyana Suriname Basin.

During his visit to Suriname in late January, Jagdeo had requested to meet with the Suriname State Oil Company, a move which disgruntled of many of the Surinamese politicians. Ravales, a member of the Democratic National Party 2000, asked the government to examine whether Guyana's actions are in accordance with Caricom agreements and whether organizations such as the Organization of American States and the United Nations should be asked to jump into the fray.

Suriname, a former Dutch colony, and Guyana, a former British colony, have been in a border dispute for many years. In June 2000, both countries came close to war when Suriname enforced its position with two gunboats, forcing CGX Energy to withdraw the jackup, CE Thornton, from the Eagle prospect in the disputed area before it could drill under a license granted by Guyana.