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The Grenada/Venezuela economic zone connection – Part II

An Oil Rig in the middle of the ocean

Attorney-at-law, Anslem Clouden, has released the contents of an article that he did in which he addressed issues that will arise in negotiations between Grenada and Venezuela in order to delineate their boundaries and territorial waters.

The 2008-13 National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Tillman Thomas had engaged the then ruling Patrick Manning-led People’s National Movement (PNM) government in Port-of-Spain to set the boundary markers in light of oil and gas deposits in waters separating the tow member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

A Russian outfit known as Global Petroleum Group (GPG) had struck a deal with a New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Keith Mitchell to explore for oil and gas in Grenada’s territorial waters.

GPG is known to have signed an agreement with the National Gas Company (NGC) of Trinidad & Tobago to co-operate in the energy sector.

Clouden believes that Grenada can only exploit any resources in proximity with Venezuela if talks are held at a governmental level between Caracas and St George’s.

The following article from the attorney-at-law who specializes in law and the sea legal matters highlights some of the things that Grenada needs to pay attention to in approaching the oil-rich South American Republic.

Article 7 of the Venezuelan Act speaks of co-ordination with other states in respect of measures for the conservation and development of stock, or stock of associated species, either within the exclusive economic zone of the Republic or the exclusive economic zone of neighbouring states.

The Republic shall endeavour through regional or sub-regional organisations, to come to an agreement with states where nationals harvest these species according to the measures necessary for their conservation.

This provision is identical to Article 63 of the ICNT with respect to stocks occurring within the exclusive economic zones of two or more coastal states, or both within the EEZ and in an area beyond and adjacent to it. There is no comparable provision in Grenada legislation.

Article 8 of the Venezuelan legislation deals with artificial islands, installations and structures in the exclusive economic zone. This provision, once again, is identical to Article 60 of the ICNT with respect to artificial islands, installations and structures in the EEZ. The Marine Boundaries Act of Grenada does not contain a comparable provision; as a matter of fact, the Act is silent on this issue.

Article 9 of the Venezuelan Act deals with marine scientific research in the exclusive economic zone. The provisions in Article 9 (1) state that marine scientific activities in the EEZ shall be conducted with the prior consent of the Republic.

Article 246 of the ICNT, on the same topic, states in sub-section (2): “Marine scientific research activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone and on the Continental Shelf shall be conducted with the consent of the coastal state.”

The Venezuelan Article 9 (2) (a) states that the Republic will not withhold its consent to the conducting of a marine scientific research project if it –

  • is directly related to the exploration and exploitation of living and non-living natural resources;
  • does not involve drilling, the use of explosives or the introduction of harmful substances into the marine environment
  • does not involve the construction, operation or use of artificial islands, installations and devices as referred to in Article 15 of this Act;
  • does not unjustifiably interfere with activities undertaken by the Republic in accordance with its jurisdiction and as provided in this Act.

Here again, the provisions mentioned above are almost identical with those found in Article 246 (5). The only mention of scientific research is the legislation of Grenada is pursuant to section 5, wherein the rights in, and jurisdiction over, the zone is enumerated.

Section 5 (iii) speaks of “the authorisation, regulation or control of scientific research”. The Act does not spell out the jurisdiction of the state in regard to the scientific research vis-à-vis other states.

In conclusion, the author must emphasise that whereas the juridical nature of the Territorial Sea, the EEZ, and the Continental Shelf have been agreed upon, the more critical issue of delimitation of the EEZ and the Shelf still remains uncertain.

At the Ninth Session in New York in 1980, Judge Manner, Chairman of Negotiating Committee 7, submitted a compromise formula. However, further consideration will have to be given to Article 74 and 83 at the continuation of the Ninth session at Geneva.

Furthermore, there is no doubt that in the not too distant future vessels may have to submit to a multiplicity of national laws which often may be different from state to state, and that some of these laws might be more severe than others and could possibly have the effect of creating obstacles to freedom.

As discussed in the preceding chapter, states can enact unilateral legislation with respect to prevention of pollution and protection and preservation of the marine environment, and to the nature of marine scientific research.

The continuation of the Ninth Session in Geneva could upset the delicate balance that currently prevails in the text if significant changes are made to Articles 74 and 83.

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