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March 08, 2007
Oil Firms Talking to Guyana About Oil Exploration

Spain's Repsol YPF is among several oil companies talking to Guyana about offshore exploration as an international tribunal prepares to rule on Georgetown's dispute with neighboring Suriname over the two nations' maritime boundary, a senior official said Wednesday.

The director of the Petroleum Division at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Newell Dennisson, said representatives of Repsol YPF, Canadian-owned CGX Energy and U.S. giant ExxonMobil have all visited the country ahead of the ruling by the Hamburg-based United Nations Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.

"The companies are coming in anticipation of a resolution being passed down, and so we are in discussions to see how we can activate them," Dennison told Efe.

With the U.N. Tribunal expected to deliver its ruling on the boundary dispute later this year, Repsol's regional head of exploration, Dewi Jones, said his company would start work in the offshore Georgetown block soon after the decision is announced.

"As soon as this decision takes place, we as a company operating the Georgetown block will reactivate our operations," Jones was quoted as saying by Guyana's state-run Government Information Agency.

Repsol has previously said that its prospecting efforts were on hold pending the end of the impasse on the boundaries of the offshore block in the Guyana-Suriname basin, which the United States Geological Survey estimates to contain 15.3 billion barrels of oil.

ExxonMobil, which also has an offshore concession, sent a high-level team here Tuesday for talks with Guyana's president, Bharrat Jagdeo.

CGX Energy, whose oil exploration rig was chased out of the disputed area by Surinamese gunboats in June 2000, plans to return to the basin after the final settlement of the maritime boundary.

"We had the opportunity to meet and discuss the oil exploration in the offshore area. Certainly we anticipate very soon exploration activities, once the dispute is resolved with Suriname," said the Canadian firm's president and CEO, Kerry Sully.

Guyana took the issue to the U.N. Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in 2004 after bilateral efforts and mediation by the 15-nation Caribbean Community failed to resolve the dispute.



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