Home » Venezuela Seeks Gas Revival Amid Guyana Dispute

Venezuela Seeks Gas Revival Amid Guyana Dispute

Maduro pushes for an offshore gas project near contested waters with Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago

by Victor Adetimilehin

Venezuela has started talks with energy firms to revive an offshore gas project near its maritime border with Guyana, where a territorial dispute has escalated in recent months. The project, known as Plataforma Deltana, has been stalled for over a decade due to lack of investment, regulatory hurdles and diplomatic tensions with neighboring countries.


But President Nicolas Maduro wants to tap into the estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in the area, which could help ease Venezuela’s chronic energy crisis and boost its struggling economy. He has also challenged a 2019 agreement between Trinidad and Tobago and Shell to develop the largest reservoir in the project, called Manatee, which extends into both countries’ waters.


Maduro said in September that the fields should be jointly developed and asked state oil company PDVSA and oil majors BP, Chevron and Shell to weigh their interest.


According to a report by Reuters, Chevron, which was the only company that completed exploration in Plataforma Deltana, has been in talks with Venezuela about its license, according to sources close to the negotiations.


Russia’s Rosneft, TotalEnergies and Equinox have also been involved in the project, but have either returned their blocks to Venezuela or not completed their work. Plataforma Deltana is the closest energy project that Venezuela has to waters in dispute with Guyana, where Exxon Mobil, CNOOC and Hess have made massive oil discoveries in recent years.


Venezuela claims about two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, including the offshore Stabroek block, where Exxon and its partners have found over 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas.


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is hearing the case, but Venezuela does not recognize its jurisdiction and has held a referendum to reject it. Maduro has also authorized oil and mining exploration in the disputed areas and created special divisions within PDVSA and state industrial conglomerate CVG for that purpose.


Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali has denounced Maduro’s actions as a threat to his country’s territorial integrity and a violation of the ICJ’s orders. The ICJ has urged both parties to refrain from any action that would alter the situation or aggravate the dispute.


Analysts say that Venezuela’s gas ambitions face many challenges, such as sanctions, lack of financing, technical expertise and infrastructure, as well as the risk of further diplomatic friction.


But they also say that gas cooperation could offer a way to ease tensions and promote regional integration, if done with respect for international law and environmental standards.

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