Venezuela says it can prove Exxon ships entered its waters


The Venezuelan government presented Tuesday what it described as evidence that vessels belonging to global oil giant ExxonMobil entered the Andean nation's territorial waters last month.

Vice President Delcy Rodriguez presented a press conference with audiovisual material in which officers of the Venezuelan navy are heard talking with crews of the oil company's ships.

"The crews admitted they invaded our territory. And because they retreated, they were not boarded," she said. "They knew they were in Venezuelan territory and decided to leave once they were given the warning."

"They (the vessels' crews) said very clearly that they were authorized by the Guyana government to sail in waters under Venezuelan jurisdiction," Rodriguez said.

The ships, intercepted on Dec. 23, were at coordinates corresponding to "the maritime projection of the Orinoco Delta" and are waters "of unquestionable Venezuelan sovereignty," Caracas said at the time.

Rodriguez said Tuesday that this material will be given to the United Nations as evidence of the "unbelievable provocation" of which the government of neighboring Guyana is guilty.

After the interception, ExxonMobil announced that, for now, it has suspended some of its projects on the western portion of the Stabroek Block, where the US-based oil supermajor has been working since 2015.

The Stabroek Block sits off the coast of Essequibo, a 160,000-sq.-kilometer (61,780-sq.-mile) area that is administered by Guyana and makes up more than half of its territory, but which Venezuela has claimed as its own since the 19th century.

The Caribbean Community expressed its "great concern" following the Dec. 23 incident.

For its part, Guyana said it will present a formal complaint before the UN for Venezuela's "illegal" action, Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge said.

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