According to AP reports, “Guyana’s government said Friday that Venezuela’s navy has detained a ship operated by a U.S. oil company in waters disputed by the neighboring South American countries.
The ship, which has five U.S. citizens on board, was conducting a seismic survey under contract for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. on Thursday when it was stopped by a Venezuelan navy vessel. It was ordered to sail under escort to Margarita Island in Venezuela, the Guyanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
“It was then clear that the vessel and its crew were not only being escorted out of Guyana’s waters, but were under arrest,” the ministry said. “These actions by the Venezuelan naval vessel are unprecedented in Guyana Venezuela relations.”
Venezuela said it legitimately detained the vessel for operating without authorization in its waters. Its government said the ship, Teknik Perdana, was expected to arrive on Margarita Island on Saturday.
Guyana said the crew was well within its territorial waters, but that the Venezuelan navy informed them that they were operating in that country’s exclusive economic zone and ordered an immediate halt to the survey. The two countries have been disputing their land and ocean borders for decades.
According to the BBC, “The Venezuelan foreign ministry responded shortly after, issuing a statement demanding an official explanation from the Guyanan authorities.
“Venezuela expresses its deepest concerns over the manner in which foreign vessels authorized by the government of Guyana enter Venezuelan territorial waters and exclusive economic area,” said the statement.
“We reiterate that the Bolivarian National Navy would never encroach on the territory of a fraternal nation.”
According to the statement, the vessel is expected to dock in the Margarita Island at 06:00 local time, 11:30 GMT on Saturday.
The foreign ministry reaffirmed Venezuela’s “peaceful vocation” and said it had no intention of “going back to previous situations of confrontation with the Republic of Guyana”.