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Bajan Piracy Must be Resisted by T&T and Venezuela
Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2008

By Stephen Kangal
June 24, 2008

The arrogance inherent in the decision of the new incoming David Thompson regime of Barbados to offer publicly leases for, inter alia, two potential hydrocarbon-bearing off-shore blocks that are clearly located south of the 18 year- old 1990 TT/Venezuela maritime boundary is indeed a dangerous act of Bajan piracy that must be stopped in its tracks.

These blocks, inter alia, have been formally recognized for 18 years since 1990 as being within the maritime jurisdictions of Venezuela and T&T. Accordingly Caracas is within its rights to issue the strongest diplomatic note of protest and to defend this unwarranted Bajan invasion and piracy of its maritime patrimony.

Additionally the Manning Administration must also get into the protest mode quickly for two reasons. Firstly if it is serious about submitting a strong and legitimate claim for consideration by the UN Commission of the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to extend its continental shelf beyond 200 miles as Foreign Minister Gopee-Scoon asserts, then the designation and location of the Barbados blocks summarily pre-empts the submission of any valid claim by T&T. Secondly the location of these off-shore blocks beginning immediately eastwards of the 2006 Arbitral Tribunal-determined bilateral boundary means that oil companies operating within Bajan maritime jurisdiction by directional drilling can potentially extract hydrocarbons from fields that are within the marine areas of T&T and/or straddle the 2006 boundary. There is no provision or protocol for sharing/management of trans-boundary mineral deposits at present between Barbados and T&T.

The recent June 21 announcement by the Thompson Administration inviting bids from international oil-companies for leases of off-shore maritime acreages as shown and illustrated in the published map has the following implications:

· It confirms my view expressed since 2006 that the boundary fixed by the Arbitral Tribunal shelf-locked and zone-locked T&T without any potential economic or resource jurisdiction to be exercised beyond 200 miles or any maritime “salida” to the Atlantic as alleged by former AG Jeremie;

· Barbados is conducting its maritime relations and claims in the Eastern Caribbean under the mistaken belief and delusion that the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal completely obliterated the validity of the 1990 TT/Maritime boundary in the South-East;

· Barbados based the location of the above-mentioned southern-most blocks on the use of the 200-mile arc measured from Barbados and the hypothetical equidistance boundary with Guyana that it now uses to legitimize its maritime claim to an area or block that is situated south of the 1990 boundary in violation of the Arbitral Award that recognized the legality of this latter boundary;

· Barbados ignores the dictat of the Tribunal that ruled that the limits of its southern jurisdiction terminated on the TT/Venezuela 1990 boundary. That is to say that it has no locus standi in exercising any jurisdiction over areas located south of the line and accordingly no longer has a valid EEZ Co-operation Agreement with Guyana that has automatically lapsed following upon the 2006 Judgment.

· The 2006 Judgment of the Arbitral Tribunal has opened a Pandora's Box that is a prescription for chaos in settling the maritime claims in the Eastern Caribbean.

[Map to follow]

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