Laying Tracks for Bajan Goutis to Run

By Stephen Kangal
January 15, 2008

TT/Barbados Maritime Boundary fixed by the Arbitral TribunalIt must be a source of enormous embarrassment to us in T&T that the Manning Administration should spend our taxpayers money to jointly sponsor in collaboration with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf a seminar. It will outline the procedures for the delimitation of the maritime boundaries of the extended continental shelf (Newsday 14 Jan., p. 15) between national and international jurisdiction located beyond 200 nautical miles (limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone). This is a clear case of stupid T&T paying for the laying of tracks for smart Bajan agoutis to run on.

I am submitting again, as I have done regularly on the media post 11 April 2006, without fear of any contradiction whatsoever that resulting from the Award of the Ad Hoc Arbitral Tribunal and not the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague as stated, handed down on 11 April 2006, T&T no longer exercises any rights over resources of an extended continental shelf in any part of the maritime areas appertaining to T&T by the law of the sea. Why this Seminar in T&T therefore?

Accordingly providing and paying for the holding of a platform at the Crown Plaza for the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf beyond 200 miles to assist inter alia, T&T to submit a potential claim to be ratified by this Commission relating to extended continental shelf claims is an exercise in futility if not propaganda and sheer stupidity from a T&T perspective. This seminar is violates our national interest.

I can understand why potential extended continental states such as Barbados, Guyana, Suriname etc will want to attend the seminar at T&T expense. But T&T is not in the category of states capable of making any potential continental shelf claim beyond 200 miles.

Former Attorney-General John Jeremie in his Senate Statement of the day that the judgment was released bequeathed us a legacy of deception and deliberate misrepresentation when he misled the Senate. He deceived us into believing until today that the Tribunal had allocated to us a high seas corridor to the Atlantic, continental shelf rights beyond 200 nautical miles and had ruled in T&T’s favour in the dispute.

Whatever extended continental shelf rights (beyond 200 miles) we possessed and exercised jurisdiction and control over for more than twenty four years based on the provisions of the 1990 T&T/ Venezuela Delimitation Agreement ( up to the terminal Point 22 of that Agreement was 300 nautical miles from T&T) were taken away from us arbitrarily by the contaminated Judgment issued by the said Arbitral Tribunal.

Accordingly T&T is now both shelf-locked and zone-locked by Barbados to the North and Venezuela to the South because at no point can it ever extend its maritime claims beyond 200 nautical miles.

What the Seminar will in fact succeed in achieving is to provide Barbados with all the technical and legal expertise and information that will now enable that country to develop and submit to the UN Commission on The Limits of the Continental Shelf a very strong and irrefutable claim designed to exercise control over hydrocarbon-bearing submarine areas that were formerly clearly under the maritime jurisdiction and control of T&T.

Geologically speaking Barbados’ continental shelf (coral formation) stops or breaks very near to its coasts (the natural prolongation principle). Barbados suffers from what the Tribunal would term “a fundamental natural geological discontinuity” that separates the coral continental shelf of Barbados from the sedimentary measures of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago.

The submarine areas that Barbados will be targeting in its claim to the UN Commission is in fact and from a geological viewpoint the continuation of the natural sedimentary prolongation (continental shelf) of both Venezuela and T&T and not of Barbados. So that the Government of T&T is paying money to host a Seminar at the Crowne Plaza to enable technocrats from Barbados to consolidate, strengthen and perform the final rites in their case for taking over our extended shelf resources (Hydrocarbons and metallic nodules) and legitimately claiming them as its own maritime patrimony.
Shades of the Sparrow calypso.

The attached Map V shows the terminal point 11 (200 nautical miles from T&T) of the TT/Barbados Maritime Boundary fixed by the Arbitral Tribunal.

TT/Barbados Maritime Boundary fixed by the Arbitral Tribunal

3 Responses to “Laying Tracks for Bajan Goutis to Run”

  • Stephen, I am very intersted in this issue, can you let me know the details fo the date and venue of the seminar, I am a melbourne univeristy masters student currently in t&t to look at the state of governance of the oil and gas industry, would be very interested to hear more about this

  • Further to the comment made yesterday, I located the seminar so please disregard that posting.
    In relation to the issue generally, I am probably fairly uninformed but as a national of a resource industry dependant nation – my comment is that both T&T and Barbados have much more to gain acting in cooperation than in competition. Will those legal advisors representing Barbados be there when the government of that country is faced with the prospect of regulating and enforcing the terms of the activities under their exclusive jurisdiction? Robust governance is essential and consistency across the region would present the industry with both certainty and some measure of standardisation that would counteract commercial pressures for individual arrangements and the cutting of environmental corners. With Chavez scaring the industry in Venezuela, exploration to the north is likely to increase. I would agree with the writer that causing confusion in a previously settled matter at great expense is hardly in the interest of T & T. I also think it is unlikely to be in the long term interest of a small and relatively inexperienced government in Barbados. Greater particiaption in the procurement, employment and downstream benefits of a robust and well regulated regional industry would probably produce better results for Barbados and smaller islands. The question is how serious the players are about the CSME? More creative things could have been negotiated utilising the relevant expertise of Barbadians together with the experience of T & T to build a regional response to this powerful industry.

  • What is the big deal here ?
    For years most ” greedy ” countries who have the muscle to enforce their boundaries have been declaring boundaries at sea so they could enrich themselves by ” cornering” all the fish and minerals and oil from the sea which they can….
    America did it so why is it … since we are bigger and stronger than Barbados ….why should we go to the United nations and negotiate any flipping treaty etc with Barbados?
    All we have to do is threaten to kick out all the Bajans back to Barbados and they will agree to anything.
    They have always cow towed to bigger countries like they did with Regan ( may he rot in hell ) when they encounraged the invasion of Grenada allowing racially motivated white marines to slaughter black people ( not a single Cuban died)
    ….so please,Manning ,don’t you have a War Racialism and Crime to win ?

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