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Get it Right Before You Write on TT's Maritime Boundaries
Posted: Tuesday, May 1, 2012

By Stephen Kangal
May 01, 2012


Let me categorically state that the printed media especially since 2004 when the TT/Barbados boundary dispute first erupted and counting, has never gotten it right in reporting about our very specialized maritime boundaries matter. They have done a great disservice to T&T. I cannot identify any single journalist past or present who has taken the time to research and/or to consult responsibly on this matter that the freedom of the press demands of media houses.

The Sunday Express article, "Oil Feud" written by Asha Javeed contains the following pathetic errors:

Blocks 28 and 29 are not near to the TT/Grenada maritime boundary. Block 28 is completely within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of T&T while Block 29 also on our EEZ is bound on the east by the 2006 TT/Barbados Boundary-not the boundary with Grenada.

Contrary to the view expressed by the Law of the Sea Tribunal Judge, Mr. Justice Anthony Lucky the 2010 TT/Grenada Maritime Treaty demarcated the respective EEZ's of the two countries and not the "common continental shelf" because our continental shelves are neither common nor geologically uniform.

The issue of T&T's continental shelf (c/s) is not in doubt because T&T does not exercise c/s rights because it has no legal continental shelf being EEZ-locked on all sides and maritime borders.

Barbados did not only outdo T&T but it reduced the extent of our maritime jurisdiction agreed with Venezuela in 1990 in real terms- not technical terms.

Barbados did not initiate maritime boundary proceedings at the Hague Dispute Resolution Centre. The dispute had nothing to do with Barbadian fishermen fishing in waters off Tobago. Barbados unilaterally went to the SG of the UN to engage the compulsory dispute settlement procedure of the LOS Convention calling for an ad hoc Arbitral Tribunal to be constituted to determine the boundary.

The Judgment of the Tribunal did not affirm the right of Barbados to a 200-mile EEZ nor did it uphold the right of Barbados to mine for hydrocarbons 150 miles beyond the 200-mile EEZ limits. This matter is in the exclusive domain of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS). The Tribunal restricted itself to fixing the bilateral boundary-nothing else.

Grenada has a boundary with T&T and cannot pursue " similar action like that of Barbados".

T&T and Guyana after the 1990 TT/Venezuela Boundary Agreement and the 2006 TT/Barbados Boundary do not have adjacent maritime borders or legal and physical continental shelves and therefore these technocrats quoted by your journalist are uninformed sensationalists.

Please editor it is time for us readers to be given the real facts and not alarmist, wholly misleading articles.

Express correspondent, Asha Javeed after the above-mentioned Sunday's literary debacle, continued in her errant journalistic ways in Monday's 30 April "Express" writing on a legally challenging maritime matter on which she is completely at sea.

The fact that blocks 21, 24, 30 and 31( not up for bidding) lie on the T&T side of the bilateral boundary with Grenada does not augur for conflict because no exploration is taking place there on either side at present. If hydrocarbons are discovered in cross -border deposits both countries will know the extent of their respective resource potential and can easily agree on a regime to facilitate exploitation in accordance with the tenets of international oil industry practices.

Similarly throughout the length of the 2006 T&T/Barbados maritime boundary both T&T and Barbados have declared and promulgated hydrocarbon blocks that are located immediately on both sides of the boundary. Only of one of the six blocks up for bidding hugs this boundary. The regime agreed by T&T with Venezuela in 1990 for cross border deposits exploration of the Loran-Manatee Gas Field containing 10 tcf of gas can also be used here. Politics is the problem in Caracas delaying exploitation.

This issue cannot be arise and be resolved unless oil is discovered. It is not a conflict because oil companies currently operate on both jurisdictions just as Chevron is involved both in T&T and Venezuela relating to Loran- Manatee.

To suggest again that technocrats from the Energy Ministry are concerned about the legal integrity of Blocks 28 and 29 and our rights being potentially infringed by Guyanese and Venezuelan marine oil exploration is pure sensationalism and creating unnecessary mischief in violation of the freedom of the press principle. No Energy official can reasonably make this allegation.

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