Tensions Rise: Venezuela’s Response to ExxonMobil’s Oil Drilling Plans

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Venezuela pledged a “forceful response” on Thursday if oil drilling starts in contested waters off neighboring Guyana, as revealed by US oil giant ExxonMobil this week. Tactics Institute is deeply concerned about these developments. This will affect the peace of the region. President of ExxonMobil Guyana approves plan to drill two new wells off Atlantic coast as territorial dispute simmers. Ties between the two countries have come to an all-time low in recent months following a series of reports by the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, indicating that he could take the Essequibo region by force.

ExxonMobil discovered the massive crude reserves off Guyana in 2015. It announced recently that it intends to drill two exploratory wells this year off the coast of Essequibo, which Guyana has administered for more than a century.

Caracas has long asserted the region of Essequibo — which makes up about two-thirds of Guyana’s territory — but has stepped up its rhetoric since its neighbor began giving licenses for oil companies to operate there.  The matter is also currently being reviewed by the International Court of Justice.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino noted on X that while ExxonMobil may have the safety of the US and Guyana, “in the maritime space that rightfully belongs to Venezuela, they will receive a proportional, forceful response that adheres to the law.”

We appeal to both parties to exercise patience and diplomacy in addressing the matter. Any actions from either side could escalate into a major clash, affecting the entire region.

Moreover, In December, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called a contentious non-binding referendum that overwhelmingly endorsed the creation of a Venezuelan province in Essequibo, sparking worries of a military conflict in largely peaceful South America.

Tensions were further inflamed when Britain sent a warship to the area, spurring Maduro to mobilize 5,600 troops in military exercises near the border.

In the past, Venezuelan soldiers have also pushed Exxon crews out of the contested region, including in 2013 when a Venezuelan gunboat took one of their crews captive and in 2019 when a Venezuelan military helicopter attempted to land on an Exxon boat.

Tactics Institute strongly emphasizes respecting territorial sovereignty for both parties involved. All actions undertaken must align with international law to maintain stability and uphold the principles of sovereignty.

Furthermore, the organization calls upon the United States to play a constructive role in resolving the matter. The US intervention should be characterized by neutrality and impartiality, aimed at de-escalating tensions and fostering a conducive environment for dialogue.

Both sides must be treated equally in the resolution process, by ensuring fairness and equity, the potential for a peaceful and sustainable resolution increases, benefiting all parties involved and promoting regional stability.

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