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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Nov. 23, 2023: In a significant development, Venezuela is on the brink of granting Shell (SHEL.L) and the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago a license to exploit a lucrative offshore natural gas field, Reuters reported.

This venture aims to facilitate the export of natural gas to Trinidad and Tobago, as informed by sources close to the matter.

Simultaneously, Guyana has been actively engaging with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, in a long-standing territorial dispute with Venezuela. The crux of the matter involves Venezuela’s contentious plans for a December 3 referendum that could influence rights over a resource-rich territory, an issue that has fueled discord between the two neighbors for decades.

In April, the World Court affirmed its jurisdiction over this dispute, setting the stage for what might be a protracted legal battle. Guyana’s representative, Carl Greenidge, has voiced concerns that the referendum could significantly undermine Guyana’s territorial integrity, potentially annexing a vast expanse of its land into Venezuelan territory.

Critics perceive Venezuela’s referendum as a strategic maneuver, not only to gauge domestic political support ahead of upcoming elections but also to assert its claim over the contested border region.

Guyana’s plea at the Hague, described by Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez as exaggerated and aggressive, seeks to prevent this referendum, citing potential threats to its sovereignty.

Amidst these tensions, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley confirmed ongoing negotiations for the gas license. Energy Minister Stuart Young’s expected visit to Caracas underscores the earnestness of these discussions.

This license could significantly benefit Trinidad’s gas processing and petrochemical sectors, while offering Venezuela a vital source of revenue. The two nations, following a recent U.S. authorization, are keen to expedite cross-border energy projects.

The focus of these negotiations is the Dragon field, a gas reserve in Venezuelan waters near the maritime boundary with Trinidad, estimated to contain up to 4.2 trillion cubic feet of gas. The proposed partnership envisages Shell holding a 70% stake and Trinidad’s NGC the remaining 30%.

While some details remain unresolved, the impending agreement, expected to be finalized soon, marks a potential turning point in the energy landscape of the region.

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