Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the country’s state-owned companies to “immediately” begin exploiting oil, gas and mines in Guyana’s Esequibo region, a territory larger than Greece and rich in oil and minerals that Venezuela claims as one’s own.
The news came the day after Maduro achieved victory in the referendum where Caracas’ claim to sovereignty over the Esequibo territory was confirmed. Maduro said he would proceed “immediately” to grant operating licenses for the exploration and exploitation of oil, gas and mines “across the entire area” and also announced the creation of local subsidiaries of Venezuelan public companies, including the oil giant PDVSA and the mining conglomerate Corporación Venezolana de Guayana.
The territory of Esequibo
The Esequibo area, 159,500 square kilometers, represents two-thirds of Guyana. Venezuela has always considered Esequibo as its own because the region fell within its borders during the Spanish colonial period. Venezuela’s commitment to pursuing the territorial claim has fluctuated over the years. His interest was piqued again in 2015, when ExxonMobil announced it had found oil off the coast of Esequibo.