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A Looming Maritime Disaster
Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2008

By Stephen Kangal
September 10, 2008

Citizens of T&T must now awake. Let us discard our politically partisan lenses with which we have viewed and assessed the recent conduct of governance by PM Manning. We must demand immediate answers from him on what is going on with the defence of the integrity and continuing ownership of our abundant, rich-yielding maritime patrimony from the creeping encroachment of Barbados.

On the basis of the 2006 Judgment Barbados succeeded and exulted in shelf-locking and zone-locking T&T with no potential legitimate claim to the rich hydrocarbon-bearing areas of the extended continental shelf of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet former AG Jeremie indicated to the Senate that we won; that the Court gave T&T a maritime boundary claim to the extended continental shelf (ECS) beyond 200 miles as well as a high seas corridor. Then what is the difficulty and delay today?

In 1 June this year Barbados released a map showing international bids for off-shore oil and gas acreages and blocks that completely hemmed in and restricted T&T exclusively to the areas West of the boundary. The two above-mentioned claims of the former AG Jeremie have been proved to be false and misleading. T&T does not and cannot protest against Bridgetown on their hydrocarbon leases. Where are the corridor and the ECS boundary that the Court awarded?

On 8 August Barbados submitted a claim for a Southern Area for an ECS to the 22nd Session of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). The CLCS will have decided and recommended on the technical merit of the Barbados application on 8 September 2008.

In reply Foreign Minister Gopee-Scoon does not object to the areas claimed but admits that both States will be making overlapping and identical ECS claims. T&T that has been brainstorming its own ECS submission for over year but according to Foreign Minister Gopee-Scoon will be taking till May '09 to submit its own while the CLCS decided on the Barbados application without the benefit of the counter-claim information of the T&T application.

The probing questions that the Manning Administration must now answer to civic society on this looming maritime disaster after two and a half-year of spin are whether:

-- The Tribunal ruled in favour of T&T and accorded both a high seas access corridor as well as an ECS maritime boundary located beyond 200 miles as claimed by former Ag Jeremie?

-- Can the published map showing the 1 June maritime acreages and oil leases of Barbados allow and facilitate the two claims mentioned above to be realized and to be considered truthful?

--Why should Barbados have consulted T&T prior to submitting its 8 August ECS application to the CLCS even though it consulted Suriname and French Guyana?

-- Should not T&T have submitted its own ECS claim to the current session of the CLCS so that it can be considered at the same time as that of Barbados seeing the same maritime areas are being claimed by both?

-- After the CLCS decided on the Barbados application this September will it be forced to give back ECS areas to T&T in post-May 2009?

Methinks not.

Barbados Map of Blocks
Barbados Map of Blocks
VENEZUELA says the two blocks named at bottom are in its waters

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