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Josh Owens is the Content Director at Oilprice.com. An International Relations and Politics graduate from the University of Edinburgh, Josh specialized in Middle East and…

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Oil-Rich Essequibo Region at Center of Guyana-Venezuela Strife

  • Venezuela's President Maduro initiated the military exercise as a defensive response to the UK's naval action near Guyana.
  • The long-standing territorial dispute between Guyana and Venezuela has intensified due to significant oil discoveries in the Essequibo region.
  • Maduro's actions are seen as a potential strategy to create an international incident and potentially delay upcoming elections in Venezuela.

The UK has condemned what it has termed as the "unjustified" actions of Venezuela after Caracas sent more than  5,600 armed forces personnel to participate in a military exercise in response to the UK sending a warship near the border with Guyana.

On Thursday, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro announced he was launching "a joint action of a defensive nature in response to the provocation and threat of the United Kingdom, which he said are against peace and the sovereignty of Venezuela.

Britain had, a few days earlier, announced it would divert its patrol vessel HMS Trent to Guyana, a former British colony, as tensions and territorial disputes continue to heat up between Guyana and Venezuela over the oil-rich Essequibo region, which Maduro has claimed following a referendum in early December. 

Essequibo makes up about two-thirds of Guyana's territory.

"The border between both countries was settled in 1899 through international arbitration and we continue to support the territorial integrity of Guyana –- an important regional ally and Commonwealth partner," a UK spokesperson has said.

Venezuela, however, does not share the UK’s views, with Maduro recently claiming that Essequibo is actually Venezuelan land. The decades-old territorial dispute that has flared ever since U.S. oil and gas producer, ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM) and its partners discovered massive oil deposits more than a decade ago. ExxonMobil estimates the basin holds almost 11 billion barrels of oil in a single section.Maduro is facing the prospect of elections in 2024, and the referendum and subsequent actions against Guyana are potentially intended to create an international incident that could justify a state-of-emergency declaration in Venezuela, which in turn would give cause to indefinitely postpone elections. 

Earlier in December, Maduro met with Guyana’s leadership, with both vowing to avoid violence. 


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  • George Doolittle on December 29 2023 said:
    Long $kmi Kinder Morgan Energy strong buy

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