Venezuela detains Americans on oil vessel

By Anatoly Kurmanaev and Peter Ward
Bloomberg News

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the third-largest independent U.S. oil and natural gas producer, said it’s working for the release of a research vessel and its crew after Guyana said Venezuela detained the ship in disputed waters yesterday.

The 36 crew members, including five U.S. citizens, are being escorted to Venezuela by the navy, said Peter Tatro, director of operations at TDI Brooks International Inc., which chartered the MV Teknik Perdana to conduct surveys for Anadarko.

Venezuela intercepted the vessel while it was surveying the seabed at the Roraima offshore license, Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on its website today. The ship was escorted toward Venezuela’s Margarita Island and its crew arrested, Guyana said.

“The vessel will probably arrive in Venezuela on Sunday but we would like to hope the governments will resolve the issue before they get there,” Tatro said by phone from College Station, Texas today.

Spokesmen for the Venezuelan Navy, Information Ministry, Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the Venezuelan Embassy in Georgetown declined to comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Caracas didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The MV Teknik Perdana “was under contract to our company and conducting a seafloor survey on behalf the government of Guyana,” John Christiansen, a spokesman for Woodlands, Texas- based Anadarko, said in an e-mail today.

Guyana said the ship was in its territorial waters when the incident occurred. The country has granted exploration rights to companies including Repsol SA., CGX Energy Inc. and Tullow Oil Plc. in the last two years in attempt to become a producer of oil or gas.

Venezuela and Guyana have had border disputes since 1841, according to the U.S. State Department. Venezuela has said its border extends as far east as the Essequibo River, a dispute that extends to nearby Atlantic waters rich in natural gas.

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