The Future Guyana Basin Oil Boom06-05-2021
The long standing maritime boundary dispute between Guyana and Suriname is no longer a hindrance between both countries to fully explore the promising Suriname-Guyana Basin, with perhaps more than 15 billion barrels of oil, most of it trapped in a 150 meter thick layer of mudstones. This estimate indicates that the Suriname-Guyana Basin is the second most important unexploited region in the world in terms of oil potential. When its potential is fully reached, it will be the twelfth most productive site in the world. CGX Resources, a Toronto based corporation, estimated in 2003 that the risk factor (the probability of striking commercially viable oil) on the Suriname-Guyana Basin was at 35%.
Guyana, is not an oil producer of any significance, but this was recently substantially altered with the discovery of large oil and gas reserves. Just 3 years ago ExxonMobil drilled a successful well that is causing quite a stir. In May 2015, the company announced that it had encountered oil at its Liza-1 well in the Stabroek Block, about 120 miles off of the coast of Guyana. Since than oil giant ExxonMobil had made several major oil discoveries and announcements with the sixth and largest find on Friday, January 5, 2018, when they announced a major oil discovery at the Ranger-1 field in the Stabroek Block: more than 230 feet of a high-quality oil-bearing reservoir.
This hullabaloo has not stopped and in July 20, 2018 the New York Times reported that during the last three years, ExxonMobil has drilled eight gushing discovery wells offshore Guyana’s waters. With the potential to generate nearly $20 billion in oil revenue annually by the end of the next decade. The New York Times went further to say that, “roughly equivalent to the revenues of the much-larger Colombia, there could be enough bounty to lift the lives of almost every Guyanese.
If all goes well, one of the poorest countries in South America could become one of the wealthiest. Suddenly the talk of Georgetown is a proposed sovereign wealth fund to manage all the money, as if this were a Persian Gulf sheikhdom.
With all of this going one in a recent commentary written by the well-respected Caribbean writer and journalist Mr. Ray Chickrie, he quoted former Suriname UN Ambassador Henry Mac Donald as an advocate of defending Suriname/Guyana ties. Ambassador Mac Donald said that: “Suriname and Guyana should cooperate since we cannot run the risk of multinationals or other powerful players creating discontent between two important neighbors. Multinationals should know upfront that these neighbors are a geographical reality and will cooperate closely in the interest of their peoples and of the entire Guyana Shield region”
This paper will encapsulate the most recent Guyana Basin Oil Boom, in parallel to the international legal obligation to cooperate with respect to hydrocarbon exploitation in the maritime border area of Guyana and Suriname, while focusing on specific solutions incase production quarrels may come up, according to international law. Subsequently, it will examine several amicable solutions according to reputable and adhered international principles and standards. Consequently, it will also address the crucial question whether a rule of customary international law requiring cooperation is applicable to common hydrocarbon deposits as in the promising Suriname – Guyana oil basin.
Finally, some constructive suggestions will be presented regarding the pathway both countries should approach, with respect to the prompt, nonviolent, peaceful and diplomatic development of their combined oil and gas blessings.
II International Legal Relationship between Sovereignty and Common Hydrocarbons Deposits
According to Ong, this question raises problematical legal issues in two principal situations. First, it may lie across a continental shelf boundary like in the well known case of the United Kingdom versus Norway in which these countries agreed in their 1965 treaty on the continental shelf boundary in the North Sea, that if a single petroleum field was found to extend across the dividing line in such a way that the field was exploitable from either side of the dividing line, the two states would seek to reach agreement on how the field could be most effectively exploited and how to apportion the proceeds.
The second situation is significantly more important in which the deposits are located in a disputed continental shelf area subject to the overlapping claims of two or more coastal states. With respect to this condition, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) made the following observation: “evidently any dispute about boundaries must involve that there is a disputed marginal or fringe area, to which both parties are laying claim”. In this case it is alleged that each claim is legally correct. This means that each of the states concerned is legally entitled to claim the relevant rights to the disputed area.
In light of the entry into force and pervasive acceptance of the 1982 UNCLOS Convention, this assumption proved to be legally correct in all cases where opposite states are less than 400 miles apart. In fact, the sole presence of hydrocarbons deposits generally prompts states to make such overlapping clams.
The central question here is whether the legal rights of neighboring states over hydrocarbon deposits situated in a continental shelf area are subject to overlapping claims? The continental shelf regime has it roots in the Truman Proclamation of 1945, which asserted that the natural resources of the seabed and subsoil of the continental shelf contiguous to the coast of the United States belonged to the United States and were subject to its jurisdiction and control. This regime gained acceptance in general international law and nowadays the coastal state sovereign rights to explore the seabed and exploit its natural resources are said to be both inherent and exclusive.
The special nature of these rights is unequivocally enshrined in article 81 of the UNCLOS, which grants the coastal state the exclusive right to authorize and regulate drilling on the continental shelf for all purposes. This means for instance that if a state remains by any reason inactive after another state (a neighboring or opposite state) has requested that it cooperate in determining the perimeter or content of the deposit, it does not necessarily give up it sovereignty or sovereign rights to the minerals in its territory or continental shelf.
In addition, these rights inhere in the coastal state under both conventional and customary international law. This also means that these sovereign rights do not depend on occupation, either expressed or notional, or any expressed proclamation of the coastal state. In sum, sovereign rights to exploit natural resources cannot be lost through neglect or inactivity.
A similarly important matter is the apportionment of a state’s continental shelf area and the delimitation of the area between the neighboring or opposite coastal states. Townsend and Stormont described the distinction between these two concepts as follows: “By apportionment is meant the ascertainment of the areas of the seabed respectively appertaining to neighboring states which are linked by a common continental shelf. By delimitation is meant the determination or fixing in precise detail of the actual boundary between those states”. According to O’ Connell however, apportionment and delimitation are therefore discrete exercises, delimitation being a subordinate process that operates according to its own rules but cannot contribute or derogate from the general entitlement under international law of each state to it portion of the continental shelf.
In the illustrious North Sea Cases, the ICJ provided a clear-cut position on this principle, when it held that “the basic concept of continental shelf entitlement means that delimitation essentially consist in drawing a boundary line between areas that already appertain to one or another of the effected states”.
This basically means that all interested states have sovereign rights to exploit and receive the common deposit. Moreover, any legal distinction between these rights where the deposit is on both sides of the continental shelf boundary and where the deposit is located within an area of overlapping claims, is less significant than initially assumed. This notion has led to a rather functional approach toward the maritime boundary delimitation.
As a result of this assumption Johnston has argued that “cooperation with respect to what are essentially ocean development and management issues such as shared resources, may be better served by a regime designed specifically to exploit those resources efficiently, then by the application of an existing set of rules on maritime boundary delimitation designed to divide space rather than the resources themselves”.
David Ong, concluded that such an approach may be appropriate in a policy-oriented framework of legal analyses, but not any attempt, however to get a legal requirement to cooperate in the form of a joint development agreement from the currently applicable sources of international law remains problematic.
A strict interpretation of the principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources will lead to the presumption that an international rule of capture should triumph over the principle of cooperation. However, Ong refutes this opinion on several valid grounds. First, he stated that there is a concrete distinction between “sovereignty and sovereign rights”. Second, no provision under international law calls unequivocally for the rule of capture to prevail over that of cooperation in the context of a common deposit.
And third, the increase in bilateral and multilateral state practice in the form of joint development and trans-boundary unitization agreements implies that more and more states prefer a cooperative, diplomatic and peaceful approach toward the ultimate resolution of boundary disputes.
III International Unitization
Unitization has long been recognized as a basic conservation tool in the United States of America. According to Lowe, Anderson, Smith and Pierce, it addresses fractionalization and subdivision by consolidating multiple tracts and interests into a single unified block to allow for orderly development and efficient operation to prevent surface, underground and economic waste. These writers also concluded that: If properly implemented, unitization also serves to protect fully correlative rights.
In 1950, the principle of unitization was introduced in international law by Gidel, who supported respect for the preservation of the “unity of the deposit” as a way of determining the problem of common petroleum deposits that straddle the boundary between states. Lagoni, describes the difficulty regarding common petroleum deposits that lie across the boundary between states as follows:
“The deposits are characterized by a complicated “equilibrium of rock pressure, gas pressure and underlying water pressure”, so that extracting natural gas or petroleum at one point unavoidably changes conditions in the whole deposit. One possible result is that other states cannot extract the minerals from their part of the deposit, even if the first state has extracted only that portion originally situated in its territory or continental shelf.
Ong, beliefs that joint development and unitization are designed to preserve the unity of such a deposit in the circumstances, as mentioned above, while respecting the intrinsic sovereign rights of the other parties concerned.
An additional and very important argument for unitization of common deposits, as for instance in the case of the Suriname-Guyana basin, involves the efficiency principle. In international law the efficiency principle tries to maximize the exploitation potential of the entire deposit by taking the physical assets into account and suggest that a better understanding of the underlying scientific precepts involved in exploiting a common petroleum deposit may provide more practical legal reasons for applying the unitization standard.
This argument has found particular support and acceptance in the United States of America, where unitization was developed by petroleum engineers and upheld by the municipal Courts as a common conservation tool.
The fluid contents of the deposits, as well as their limited number and static character, led the U.S. Municipal Courts to replace the practice and rule of unrestricted capture with a set of guidelines of correlative rights and duties.
The doctrine generally found support in the understanding that owners of a common resource of supply necessarily stand in a unique relationship to one another, to the extend that unrestricted production by one unavoidably has undesirable effects on the economic welfare of the others. This yet again resulted in the recognition that each interest holder has a natural right to an equitable share of the common deposit and this notion consequently substituted a comprehensive regime of controlled cooperative production for the rule of unrestricted capture. These domestic USA laws and jurisprudence have clearly provided another example of a trend towards the application of a rule requiring some form of bilateral or international cooperation in the case of trans-boundary deposits.
As indicated by Ong, cooperative principles derived from international law of shared natural resources, should be applied by analogy to the international law of continental shelf boundary delimitation. In fact, maritime delimitation is not really the issue, the sense that the portrayal of a boundary alone will not determine the question should a deposit be found to lie across that line. Rather, the issue is whether an appropriate international legal structure is developing that would allow states to resourcefully utilize shared mineral resources at present and in the future.
Consequently, there is no convincing reason why the doctrine of impartial apportionment or allotment as it has developed in the law of international rivers and drainage basins, which demands that the legitimate interests of the states concerned must be considered in harmony with the fact of the case, cannot be equally applied in this context. The safeguarding of the unity of such a deposit is therefore fundamental to any agreement between interested states, be it a boundary delimitation agreement, incorporating a trans-boundary unitization clause, or a joint development agreement. Unitization will be the single approach to appropriately, efficiently and legally materialize a way out for exploiting the common deposit.
IV International Legal Duty to Cooperate
The international legal basis for an international obligation to cooperate with respect to shared natural resources in the continental shelf zone must be determined by what is universally referred to as the secondary sources of international law such as:
- United Nations General Assembly Resolutions and other UN instruments;
- relevant multilateral conventions such as the UNCLOS;
- procedures of regional organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS);
- relevant international case law (international jurisprudence);
- bilateral state practice in joint development;
- academic articles produced by distinguished scientists and publicists.
- UN General Assembly Resolutions
Approved UN General Assembly resolutions are widely recognized as declarations of intention by the member states regarding the subject of the resolution. With respect to the subject of shared natural resources, article 3 of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States stipulates that: “in the exploitation of natural resources shared by two or more countries, each state must co-operate on the basis of a system of information and prior consultations in order to achieve optimum use of such resources without causing damage to the legitimate interest of others”.
The necessity to cooperate in the conservation and harmonious utilization of natural resources shared by two or more-member states was recognized in 1979 by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and subsequently recognized by a resolution of the General Assembly.
- UNCLOS (Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration)
Part XV of the UNCLOS addresses the settlement of disputes, it is rather complicated to understand its meaning in simple non-judicial terms, but it is nevertheless likely to recognize explicit requirements that it compels on all its member states. Member states are obliged to settle disputes among themselves by peaceful means, in accordance with article 2, paragraph 3 of the Charter of the United Nations. In addition, parties to a dispute must engage in an exchange of views regarding settlement by negotiation or other peaceful means in three exact circumstances:
- when a dispute arises between parties concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention;
- when a procedure for the settlement of such a dispute has been terminated without a settlement;
- when a settlement has been reached and the circumstances require consultation regarding the manner of implementation.
Article 123 of UNCLOS provides that “States bordering an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea should co-operate with each other in the exercise of their rights and in the performance of duties”. The principal of cooperation in this article has been traced back to the United Nations Charter and the Declaration of Principles of International Law according to Budislas Kuskas.
Many writers therefore emphasized that it goes beyond a mere recommendation and constitutes a legal obligation to cooperate and therefore coordinate activities in respect of marine living resources, the marine environment and marine scientific research within semi-enclosed seas.
As for the continental self, UNCLOS requires states to cooperate towards reaching agreements regarding their delimitation disputes. The states in a dispute are required to enter into practical provisional arrangements, as a precaution against the discovery of common minerals or hydrocarbon deposits prior to concluding the final delimitation agreement. The provisional agreements need to be made in a spirit of cooperation and understanding, where concerning states should made every attempt not to endanger or jeopardize the reaching of a final agreement over the disputed area in question.
The Principal of Good Faith
As stated before there is a general obligation to cooperate in good faith, when deposits lie across delimitated boundary lines or are situated in areas of overlapping claims. However some writers still support the opinion that the substantive content of this cooperative requirement is indecisive.
The negotiating governments are not constrained by set deadlines or certain specific rules according to international law in order to reach an agreement. The single resource available when parties could not reach an amicable solution is to resort to the compulsory dispute settlement procedure under Part XV of UNCLOS. This provision according to Ong, “at least implies that the negotiations are subject to a notional time limit, since the dispute settlement procedure can be invoked if no agreement is reached within a reasonable period of time”.
Ong, argues further that “even this possibility is limited, as states may declare in writing at any time that they will not accept compulsory settlement of certain categories of disputes including, inter alia, those relating to sea boundary delimitations”.
The duty to negotiate in good faith is widely acknowledged as a general principle well founded in many domestic jurisdictions, as well as international law and prohibits any state from delaying the negotiation process needlessly or indefensibly. In the North Sea Continental Shelf cases, for instance the International Court of Justice held that the states concerned were obliged to enter into negotiations with a view of arriving at an agreement, and that these negotiations had to be meaningful.
- OAS Procedure (Conciliation)
The member states of the OAS reiterated in its Charter that “controversies of an international character arising between two or more American States, shall be settled by peaceful procedures and “strengthening of peace and security in the continent “, as well as “ensuring the peaceful settlement of controversies which may arise between member states.”
In this respect, the Governments of Belize and Guatemala have sought the support of the General Secretariat of the OAS in 2001, to help find a solution to their territorial differences through dialogue in line with the principles of the Charter.
Both parties appointed facilitators to assist their governments to find formulae for a peaceful and definitive resolution of the territorial dispute and resorted to the Organization to lend its assistance as a witness of honor.
To serve this cause the Organization established a “Fund for Peace: Peaceful Settlement of Territorial Disputes”. The purpose of this fund was to help solve any territorial dispute which arises among member states, using the means provided for under international law and treaties currently in force, thereby contributing to the consolidation of peace and security in the hemisphere. The special objective of this fund was to provide member states of the Organization that so request, with financial resources to assist with defraying costs to proceedings previously agreed to by parties for the peaceful resolution of their disputes. The fund included voluntary contributions from OAS Member States, Permanent Observers to the OAS; other States; international financial institutions; national and international organizations; and other entities and persons; as well as accumulated interest and other investments income earned by the fund.
Belize – Guatemala Tentative Agreement
The Belize Guatemala tentative agreement demonstrated that with the interference of the OAS a serious effort was made to settle the long-standing dispute between the two Central American member states.
This example expressed that with determined leadership, provided by the OAS, countries can at least make decisive steps to solve persistent problems. Then, U.S. Secretary of State H.E. Colin Powel, said at a meeting in the OAS “that a final settlement of the dispute ‘will be good for the people of Belize and for the people of Guatemala, good for the people of Central America, and good for the people of the western hemisphere”.
Belize and Guatemala were not alone in reaching a first settlement package. The Government of Honduras also played an important, invaluable and honorable third-party role in helping to make the settlement package as comprehensive as possible.
Under the tentative agreement, both countries agreed to a mutually acceptable boundary. In addition, Belize and Honduras would recognize Guatemala’s claim to maritime rights in the Caribbean. Besides, Guatemalans who took up residency in a village in Belize, will be allowed to remain there and offered Belizean citizenship. Final acceptance rested with the voters of Belize and Guatemala who needed to confirm the settlement through a nationwide plebiscite.
Content of the Agreement
The agreement reached between Belize and Guatemala was of a limited and temporal nature. The agreement was valid until August 31st, 2001 and sought to create sufficient trust between the parties to prevent or avoid incidents that could undermine the progress towards a solution of the territorial dispute under negotiation. Neither party renounces in whole or in part its sovereignty (terrestrial, aerial or maritime), nor any of its rights over the claimed territories. Neither party should use the agreement against the other and both will respect the principles of humanitarian law whenever those principles may apply to the circumstances.
The OAS-mediated agreement did not contain all the elements necessary for the conclusion of a permanent agreement between the parties, since its nature was limited and temporary, and each party reserved the right to proceed with its claim before another forum. However, its importance lied in setting up precise terms to assist the parties in settling their ongoing dispute.
Despite a low turnout of voters, on Sunday, April 15, 2018 Guatemalans voted ‘Yes,’ agreeing to take their territorial claim on Belize to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The electorates’ participation in the referendum was at 26.33%, representing about 1.9 million of the over seven million eligible voters. Almost 96% of voters support the ICJ idea, while less than 5% voted against it. Belize is expected to hold its own referendum, where Belizeans will determine whether or not to take the territorial issue to the ICJ. A date is yet to be announced, but it is expected to take place sometime after the re-registration process scheduled for later this year.
- International Case Law (Litigation)
With regard to the problem of deposits lying on both sides of the continental shelf boundary the International Court of Justice held in the North Sea Cases that “the practice of States shows how this problem has been dealt with, and all that is needed is to refer to the undertakings entered into by the coastal States of that sea with a view to ensuring the most efficient exploitation or the apportionment of the products extracted. The ICJ also held that “joint exploitation agreements were particularly appropriate when it is a question of preserving the unity of a deposit” in areas of overlapping, but equally justifiable claims.
- Bilateral State Practices in Joint Development
Since 1958 states have frequently been prepared to effectively cooperate regarding the exploration and exploitation of shared natural resources. In 2004 there were no less than seventeen bilateral joint development agreements in force, globally. The regions where state practice on joint development prevails are the North Sea, the Persian Gulf, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, the Timor Sea and the Caribbean Sea, as well as in parts of the Eastern and Southern Atlantic Ocean. The nonexistence of one single binding multilateral convention to cooperate with respect to shared natural resources has not precluded states to seek alternative cooperative measures to solve existing boundary limitation problems.
However, there is still a widespread uncertainty over the existence of one single recognized rule or principle of international customary law promoting cooperation in the form of joint development. As a consequence, at least three basic cooperation models have been designed and established. The British Institute of International cooperative law observed in its publication of 1989 that “Each of these models has a number of possible variations, yet none seems capable of commending universal acceptance due to differing political and economic systems, traditions of conflict and degrees of national sensitivity”.
Joint Development Models:
- Under the first model, one state manages the development of the hydrocarbon deposits located in the disputed area on behalf of both parties. For reasons of unacceptable loss of control and autonomy, this model cannot be considered favorable to many states today.
- A more accepted model lies in the system of compulsory joint ventures between the interested states and their national or other nominated oil companies in designated joint development zones. Major examples are the agreement of 1974 between Japan and the Republic of South Korea, and the Convention in the Bay of Biscay between France and Spain. Both agreements provided for exploration and exploitation in a defined joint development zone to be carried out in further divided sub-zones by entities nominated by both states under a joint operating agreement that, in turn, gives a single entity exclusive operational rights and control over the relevant sub-zone.
Strategic control of development of the resources in the joint zones is maintained by the two states by requiring that both of them approve the joint operating agreements. Important to note is that the terms of reference of the joint Commission is designed for liaison purposes only.
The Colombia – Jamaica Treaty of 1993 establishes a zone in which both parties exercise joint management and control over the exploration and exploitation of the living and non-living resources. The treaty provides a Joint Commission to facilitate these joint actions and to perform any other functions assigned to it by the parties within the scope of the agreement. The decisions of the Joint Commission are to be taken by consensus and are for recommendation purposes only, unless they are adopted by the parties, in which they became binding.
The Argentina - United Kingdom Joint Declaration provides for a similar facilitative Joint Commission that is charged with the submission of recommendations to both Governments on maritime environmental protection, as well as the promotion, development and coordination of the hydrocarbon management, both within the designated special areas of cooperation and beyond. The coordinates of the special areas are provided in an annex to the base Joint Declaration. The coordination of the exploration and exploitation activities is assigned to a subcommittee of the Commission.
(III) The third and widely institutionalized joint development model consists of an agreement by the interested states to establish an International Joint Authority with legal personality, licensing and regulatory powers, and a wide-ranging mandate to manage the development of the disputed zone on those state’s behalf. Miyoshi described these Joint Authorities as “strong“ institutions with extensive supervisory and decision making powers and wide ranging functions, as apposed to the “weak” liaison or consultative type of bodies under the direction of the parties established by some agreements embodying the second joint development model as described before.
The Timor Gap Zone of Cooperation Treaty between Australia and Indonesia which established a Ministerial Council and Joint Authority to regulate petroleum exploration and exploitation in Area A of the zone of cooperation is the most accepted and popular example of this model. The Joint Authority has the responsibility for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation in the corresponding joint development zones. It can legally exercise its powers and perform it functions because it has obtained legal jurisdiction from both states. It may also enter into contractual arrangements with prospective concessionaires. The contracts with prospected concessionaires must allow the production sharing model of petroleum exploration and exploitation.
Another comparable illustration of the “Timor Gap Treaty” model is the Malaysia - Thailand Development Agreement of 1979 -1990 which established the Malaysia – Thailand Joint Authority..
Lastly, the 1993 Guinea-Bissau – Senegal Agreement and its 1995 Protocol is eminent proof that this joint development model is increasingly gaining international traction and recognition by states in boundary dispute situations, despite the extra administrative and organizational burden its institutions impose on the parties.
Oil exploitation disputes between small states have never been properly settled true aggression or warfare. The longstanding and unresolved boundary dispute between Suriname and Guyana was a heritage left behind by their colonizers. However, both independent Republics faced the challenge and resolved the issue properly for the prosperity of their peoples in 2008.
In the book entitled “Triumph for ITLOS”, Sir Shridath Ramphal emphasized, that the Award served the peace of the world. It conclusively blocked the emergence of any large and dangerous hole in the fundamental rule of international law, Ramphal added, explaining that it prohibited the use of force in maritime areas no less than in territorial ones. The real winner was the system of international law that brought the two countries to the arbitral tribunal and to the peaceful resolution of their maritime dispute,” he said. “…It is a signal of wider import – that the threat and use of force in disputes between states is beyond the pale of lawful conduct,” he later added.
In the future both countries should continue to utilize the present mechanisms and institutions available in current international law and practice. International institutions such as UNCLOS and the OAS depend on a set of practical and political guidelines and principles, and have the international political standing, reputation and mandate to provide a guiding light to their members states in the search for friendly and peaceful solutions to territorial and regional differences and divergencies.
The answer to the question regarding the situation of the demarcation line (boundary line) is and was of less importance, than that regarding the distribution of the available and shared deposits of hydrocarbons in the maritime border area. According to (former) Ambassador Joseph Edmunds: “Countries concerned must become aware of their combined available resources and their possible transformation into tangible economic benefits which could redound to the mutual benefit of their people, and indeed, to the region to which they belong. This can be brought to light by a measurement of those resources and a quantification of their possible transformation to serve the respective countries in the short, medium and long term”.
The future wellbeing of the Peoples of Suriname and Guyana should take center stage in this process. It is for this reason alone that parties should quickly find ways to increase intimate cooperation. The alternative will be continued underdevelopment and grave loss of opportunities, while parked gigantic amounts of hydrocarbons are just waiting to be developed.
Faced with present day reality, the following initial recommendations are advisable:
- Both countries should continue to adopt constructive and positive approaches to the issue at hand and agree to collaborate towards the development of common approaches with a crystal-clear agenda.
- Suriname and Guyana should start to study the existing international bilateral joint agreements in general and in particular the Jamaica-Colombia Treaty (1993) and the Argentina-United Kingdom Joint Declaration (1996), in support of continued and future collaboration.
- Both countries should re-activate and strengthen their existing Border Commissions with professional/senior specialist, as well as with young experts with knowledge and expertise in international maritime law, oil and gas law and the regulation of energy.
 The disputed maritime area between Suriname and Guyana, part of the Suriname-Guyana Basin, was an under explored area on the Continental Shelf of South America extending from Venezuela (in the West) to Suriname (in the East). The Suriname-Guyana Basin is geographically next to Trinidad and Venezuela, both important hydrocarbons producers on the Caribbean plateau and the Venezuelan extension. Through out this area large commercial petroleum companies such as EXXON MOBOL, AGIP and BURLINGTON have successfully drilled petroleum.
 United States Geological Survey World Petroleum Assessment, 2000.
 Thomas W. Donovan, Suriname-Guyana Maritime and Territorial Disputes: A Legal and Historical Analysis, Journal of Transnational Law & Policy, Vol. 13, at 48 (2003).
 Charles Kennedy, Exxon Mobil Could Turn Guyana Into A Major Oil Producer, July 22, 2015, <https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/ExxonMobil-Could-Turn-Guyana-Into-A-Major-Oil-Producer.html>.
 CARIBBEAN 360, Oil Giant Reports its Largest Find in Guyana, January 8, 2018, <http://www.caribbean360.com/news/oil-giant-reports-largest-find-guyana>.
 Clifford Krauss, the 20 Billion Dollar Question for Guyana, July 20, 2018, < https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/business/energy-environment/the-20-billion-question-for-guyana.html>.
 Id at 11.
 Ray Chickrie, “Commentary: Guyana’s new found oil: Suriname silent, Trinidad and Tobago’s selfish past and hysteria”, September 10, 2018, < https://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/09/10/commentary-guyanas-new-found-oil-suriname-silent-trinidad-and-tobagos-selfish-past-and-hysteria/>.
 David M. Ong, Lecturer in Law, University of Essex, England, and Principal Research Fellow, Joint Development Regimes, British Institute of International and Comparative Law.
 Barbara Kwiatkowska, Economic and Environmental Considerations in maritime Boundary Delimitations, International Maritime Boundaries 75, 87 n.49 notes that “ trans-boundary resource deposit clauses in maritime boundary delimitation agreements, often modeled by the 1965 UK Norway agreement infra note 33, are found in a considerable number of maritime delimitation agreements.
 Agreement Related to the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between the Two countries. Mar. 10, 1965 UK-Nor, 1965, Gr. Brit. TS No. 71 (Cmnd. 2757), 551 UNTS214. See also D.H. Anderson, Norway – United Kingdom, Report No 9 – 15 in Maritime Boundaries, supra note 32.
 David M. Ong, Joint Development of Common Offshore Oil and Gas Deposits “Mere” State Practice or Customary International Law? American Journal of International Law, Vol. 93, No.4, October 1999. An alternative example from the North Sea region, with almost the same outcome is the Agreement Relating to the Exploitation of single Geological Structures Extending across the Dividing Line on the Continental Shelf under the North Sea, Oct 6, 1965, UK – Neth. Art. 1, 1967, Gr. Brit. TS No. 24 (Cmnd. 3254).
 North Sea Continental Shelf (FRG. Den; FRG/Neth.), 1969 ICJ REP. 3, 22, para. 20 (Feb. 20) [hereafter North Sea Cases].
 Rainer Lagoni, Interim Measures Pending Maritime Delimitation Agreements, 78 ASIL 345, 357 (1984).
 Ian Townsend and Gault and William G. Tormont, Offshore Petroleum Joint Development arrangements: Functional Instrument? Compromise? Obligation? Peaceful Management of Trans-Boundary Resources, at 51 (1995).
 Rudiger Wolfrum, The Legal Order for the Sea and Oceans, 1995: “The combined effect of Articles 57, 76 (1) and 77 of the UNCLOS provides all coastal states parties and arguably even non states parties under customary international law with a legal claim to a continental shelf of at least 200 nautical miles from their coastal baseline, over which they exercise sovereign rights for their coastal baseline, over which they exercise sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting its natural sources. This is because Articles 76 (1) and 77 apparently accord the sovereign rights to “all coastal states” not merely partners to the convention. Wolfrum notes that references to “State Parties, “States” and even “all States” as having rights or obligations under the Convention seem to indicate that it creates or codifies rights and obligations for both state parties and non-state parties notwithstanding the generally accepted principle that a state is bound only by treaty law to which it has consented”.
 Ong, supra note 44, at 774.
 Proclamation No. 2667, Policy of the United States with Respect to the Natural Resources of the Subsoil and Seabed of the Continental shelf, Sept. 28, 1945, 10 Feb. Reg. 12,303 (1945).
 Inter American Juridical Committee, Rights and Duties of States under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, 2000, at 44; “Costal States” include all states other than land-locked States (Bolivia and Paraguay, in the Americas) – including “geographically disadvantaged “States –and States bordering semi-enclosed seas”.
 UNCLOS supra note 8, Art. 77 (2); and the Convention on the Continental Shelf, April 20, 1958, art. 77 (2), 15 UST 471, 499 UNTS 311. See also Report of the International Law Commission to the General Assembly,  2Y.B. Int’ L. Comm’n 253, 264, art. 68, UN Doc. A/CN.4? SERA/1956/Add.1.
 UNCLOS, supra note 8.
 Rainer Lagoni, Oil and Gas Deposits Across National Frontiers, 73 AJIL 215, at 238 (1979).
 Geneva Convention on the Continental shelf, supra note 53 and Article 77 of UNCLOS supra note 8.
 See e.g. Nort Sea Cases, 1964 ICJ REP, at 22, para. 19 (holding that the sovereign rights of a coastal state exist ipso facto and ab initio by virtue of its sovereignty over the adjacent land territory). It is also important to note that this case was decided by the application of customary international law as Germany was not a party to the relevant international agreement namely, the Convention on the Continental Shelf.
 See, e.g. Article 2 (3) Of the Convention of the Continental shelf supra note 53.
 Contrary to what was predicted by in William T. Onorato, Appointment of an International Common Petroleum Deposit, 26 Int ‘L. and Comp. L.Q. 324, 329 (1977), see also Ong, supra note 44, at 775.
 Towsend and Stormont, supra note 48 at 56.
 D.P. O’ Connell, The International Law of the Sea, at 692 (1984).
 North Sea Cases, 1969, ICJ Rep at 22, para. 20. Later in the same Judgment, the Court held that the appurtenance of a given continental shelf area to one state or another in no way governs the precise delimitation of its maritime boundaries, any more than uncertainty over land boundaries can affect territorial rights Id at 32, para. 46.
 Ong, supra note 44 at 775.
 Douglas M. Johnston, The Theory and History of Ocean Boundary Making, at 227 – 229 (1988).
 Ong, supra note 44, at 777.
 The rule of capture has been described in the United States of America in Kelly v. Ohio oil Co. 49 N.E. 399 (Ohio 1897) as follows: “Petroleum oil is a mineral, and while in the earth it is part of the realty, and should it move from place to place by percolation or otherwise, it forms part of that tract of land in which it tarries from time to time being, and, if it moves to the next adjoining tract, it becomes part and parcel of that tract; and it forms part of a tract until it reaches a well, and is raised to the surface, and then for the first time it becomes the subject of distinct ownership, separate from the realty, and becomes personal property – the property of the person into whose well it came. And this is so whether the oil moves, percolates, or exists in pools or deposits. In either event, it is the property of and belongs to, the person who reaches it by means of a well”. See also Joseph W. Morris, The North Sea Continental Shelf: Oil and Gas Legal Problems, 2 Int L. Law, 191 – 206 (1967); “This rule is derived from the early municipal case law of several oil producing jurisdictions notably in the United States”. According to William T. Onorato, supra note 59 at 90: “Under this rule, title to petroleum was determined solely by ownership gained by way of unregulated and after wasteful extraction”.
 Ong, supra note 44 at 777.
 Jacqueline L. Weaver, Unitization of Oil and Gas Fields in Texas (Johns Hopkins Press). See also Jhon S. Low, Owen L. Anderson, Ernest E. Smith, David F. Pierce, Cases and Materials on Oil and Gas Law, Fourth Edition, 2002, at 785.
 UN Secretariat for the International Law Commission, Memorandum on the Regime of the High Seas,  2Y.B. Int’l L. Comm’n 67, 112, para. 337, UN Doc. A/cn. 4/SER.A/1950/Add.1.
 Lagoni, supra note 55, at 217.
 “Joint Development”:
Towsend-Gualt, supra note 47, defines joint development as “a decision by [two or more states] to pool any rights they may have over a given area and, to a greater or lesser degree, undertake some form of joint management for the purpose of exploring for and exploiting of offshore minerals”.
Masahiro Miyoshi, The Joint Development of Offshore Oil and Gas in Relation to Maritime Boundary Delimitation (International Boundaries Research Unit, Maritime Briefing No. 5, 1999) at 17: indicates that “the concept of joint development has not been understood or applied uniformly. The conclusions and recommendations of the “Lawyers Group’ at the Second Workshop on Geology and Hydrocarbon potential in the South China Sea and Possibilities of Joint Development, held in Honolulu in August 1883, defined joint development as extending from unitization of shared resources to unilateral development of shared resources beyond a stipulated boundary, and various graduations in between”.
Lagoni, supra note 55”; restricts the scope of joint development to cooperation between states based on an agreement regarding the exploration for and exploitation of certain deposits, fields or accumulations of non-living resources that either extend across a boundary or lie in an area of overlapping claims”.
Hazel Fox et al, Joint Development of Offshore Oil and Gas 45 (1989); said that “The research team of the British Institute of International Cooperative Law defines joint development as an agreement between two states to develop, so as to share jointly in agreed proportions by interstate cooperation and national resources, the offshore oil and gas in a designated zone of the seabed and subsoil of the continental shelf to which either or both of the participating states are entitled in international law”.
Miyoshi, supra note; takes restrictive view of joint development that limits it to an intergovernmental agreement, to the exclusion of joint ventures between a governmental and an oil company or consortia of private companies for capital participation. He therefore defines joint development as: “an inter-governmental arrangement for provisional nature, designed for functional purposes of joint exploration and for exploitation of hydrocarbon resources of the seabed beyond the territorial sea”.
 Ong, supra note 44, at 778.
 Richard E. Swarbick, Oil and Gas Reservoirs across Ownership Boundaries: The Technical Basis for Apportioning Reserves, in Peaceful Management of Trans-boundary Resources, at 51 (1995).
 Tex. R.R. Comm’n, 16 Texas Admin Code § 3.13.; the conservation acts of most states in the USA prohibits the drilling of oil and gas without a permit. A holder of such a permit must drill the well in strict compliance with the regulations that are designed to prevent waste. See also Larson v. Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 569 P. 26 87 (Wyoming 1977), “when required to protect correlative rights or, to prevent or assist in preventing any of the various types of waste of oil and gas prohibiting by this act [§§ 30-216 to 30-231], or by any statute of this state, the commission , upon its own motion or on a proper application of an interested party, but after notice and hearing as herein provided shall have the power to establish drilling units of specified and approximately uniform size covering any pool”. See also Towsend – Gault at supra note 48, at 6.
 Onorato, supra note 59 at 89-90.
 Id at 91.
 Id at 92. See also Larsen v. Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, supra note 78. See also Pattie v. Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 402 P.2d. 596 (Mont. 1965), the Court held that; “Montana is the only state we can find that produces substantial quantities of oil and gas, has a modernized Conservation Act, and belongs to the Interstate Oil Compact Commission, but has no specific reference to correlative or private rights in its legislation”….”In the instant case the Commission did not consider the correlative rights but we hold that it should have”. See also Exxon Corp. v. Rail Road Commission, 571 S.W. 2d. 497. (Texas 1978): “In the context of the present case, economic factors were relevant to BTA’s application and were property considered by the Commission in determining whether a rule 37 exception was necessary to prevent the waste of oil”.
 Ong, supra note 44 at 780.
 Id. See also Lagoni supra note 55 at 239.
 Misahiro Miyoski, The basic Concept of Joint Development and Hydrocarbon Resources on the Continental Shelf, 3 Int’l L. J. Esuarine L. 1, 5 & Appendix II, at 17 (1988).
 Nico Schrijver, Sovereignty over Natural Resources: Balancing Rights and Duties, at 338 (1997): “States today are under an obligation to recognize the correlative rights of other states and at least to consult with them as regards to current uses of trans-boundary resources. See also the North Sea Cases, 1969 ICJ Rep. at 52. para 99; “Joint exploitation agreements are particularly appropriate when it is a question of preserving the unity of a deposit in areas of overlapping, but equally justifiable claims. See also Ong, supra note 44 at 780.
 The Organization of American States (OAS) is an international organization created by the American States to achieve an order of peace and justice, promote their solidarity and defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and their independence (Article 1 of the OAS Charter). The Organization of American States is a regional agency within the meaning of Article 52 of the United Nations Charter and consist of 34-member States (with the exclusion of Cuba), <www.oas.org>.
 Michael Byers, Custom, Power and the Power of Rules: International Relations and Customary International Law, at 135 (1999); “many non- industrialized states and a significant number of notable writers have asserted that resolutions and declarations are important forms of state practice which are potentially creative, or at least indicative, of rules of customary international law. The International Court of Justice appears to have reinforced this view by accepting in its judgment in the 1986 Nicaragua Case (Merits),, that a series of United Nations General Assembly resolutions played a major role in the development of rules of customary international law prohibiting intervention and aggression”.
 GA Res. 3281 (XXIX), UN GAOR, 29th Sess., Supp. No. 30, UN Doc. A/9030 (1974). See also Judo Umanto Kusumowidago, Consultation Clauses as Means for Treaty Obedience 145 – 46 (1981); “Either tactically or expressly, all treaties of common interests in the use of common resources anticipate the operation of the rule of consultation prior to action”.
 Schrijver, supra note 87, at 132-133.
 G.A. Res. 34/186, UN GAOR, 34th Sess., Supp. No. 46 at 123, UN Doc.A/34/46 (1979).
 UNCLOS, supra note 8, Art. 279.
 Id. at Art. 283.
 Article 122 of UNCLOS, supra note 8, provides that an “enclosed or semi enclosed sea means” inter alea a sea consisting entirely or primarily of the territorial seas and exclusive economic zones of two or more coastal states”.
 Budislav Kukas, Commentary on the Law of the Sea in the 1980’s, Proceedings, at 531. (1980).
 Id, See also M.L. Recoraro, The Concept of Enclosed and Semi Enclosed Seas in the New Law of the Sea, 1989 Y.B. II Universita Deli Studi Di Roma, Dipartimento Di Diritto Publico 369, 379.
 UNCLOS, supra note 8, Art 83 (1).
 Id. Art 83 (3).
 Kwiatkowska, supra note 42 at 87, See also David Ong, South East Asian State Practice on the Joint Development of Offshore Oil and Gas Deposits; Peaceful Management of Trans-boundary Resources at 77, 83-84.
 Townsend-Gualt, supra note 48, at 5-6, See also Lagoni, supra note 55 at 358.
 D.H. Anderson, Strategies for Dispute Resolution: Negotiating Joint Agreements, Boundaries and Energy: Problems prospects, at 473, 476 (1998).
 UNCLOS, supra note 8, Art 83 (2).
 Ong, supra note 44 at 784.
 Id, See also UNCLOS, supra note 8, Art 298 (1) (a) (i)
 L.F.E. Goldie, Delimiting Continental Shelf Boundaries, Limits to National Jurisdiction over the Sea, at 3, 18 (1974).
 North Sea Cases, 1969 ICJ Rep. at 47 para 85.
 Charter of the Organization of American States, Part 1, Chapt. II, Art. 3.
 See, OAS Resolution OEA/Ser.G CP/RES. 780 (1257/00) December 1, 2000. See also Id at Art’s. 24, 25 and 26.
 OEA/Ser.G/CP/INF.4453/00, November 13 2000.
 The Belize - Guatemala Proposals, Ending the Belize Guatemala Territorial Dispute, BelizeFreePress.com, September 21, 2002, <www.belizefreepress.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cg1/1/3>. See also Secretary-General welcomes Belize-Guatemala Agreement, Ending Territorial Dispute, OAS Press Release SG/SM/8390/CA/25, September 18, 2002.
 The Belize Guatemala Proposals, supra note 116.
 Belize –Guatemala Territorial Referendum Proposals from the Facilitators, Presented by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, August 30, 2002, <www.belize.gov.bz/features/proposals/belize_guatemala_diffe>.
 Id. “Belize and Guatemala had agreed to submit the Proposals to referenda on the same day in both countries within 75 days of the issuance of the Proposals; when Guatemala did not comply, further negotiations under OAS auspices produced an Agreement to Establish a transition Process and Confidence Building Measures Between Belize and Guatemala. The Agreement gives a greater role to the OAS; in particular it establishes a permanent office in the “Adjacency Zone” (a one km. area along each side of the border) to monitor compliance with the CBM’s, verify incidents and generally work to improve relations among inhabitants of the Zone; it provides for the OAS to assist in the relocation of Guatemalans who have illegally settled on the Belize side of the Zone. The Agreement also established a Group of Friends to provide political and operational support for compliance with the Agreement, signed by both parties and the OAS on February 7, 2003, (Briefing Note on the Guatemala-Belize Dispute, Permanent Mission of Belize to the OAS, December 2003.
 OAS Mediates in Belize-Guatemala Border Dispute, Issue: 20, Volume: 5, by: Montserrat Gorina-Ysern, Date: December 19, 2000.
 The San Pedro Sun, Guatemala votes ‘Yes’ to take the territorial dispute over Belize to the ICJ
Monday, April 16th, 2018, < https://www.sanpedrosun.com/government/2018/04/16/guatemala-votes-yes-take-territorial-dispute-belize-icj/>.
 North Sea Cases, 1969 ICJ Rep. at 52-53, para. 97.
 Id at 52, para. 99.
 A sequential list of the agreements recognized in these regions includes subsequently:
Agreement concerning the Delimitation of the Continental shelf in the Persian Gulf, between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, February 22, 1958;
Agreement concerning the working of Common Deposits of Natural Gas and Petroleum between the Czech Republic and Australia, January 23, 1960;
Supplementary Agreement concerning the Arrangements for Cooperation in the Ems Estuary, between the Netherlands and Germany, May 14, 1962;
Agreement Relating to Partition of the Neutral Zone, between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, July, 1965;
Agreement on the Settlement of Maritime Boundary Lines and Sovereign Rights over Islands, between Qatar and Abu Dhabi, March 20, 1969;
Memorandum of Understanding between Iran and Shanjah, November 18, 1971;
Convention on the Delimitation of the Continental shelf of the Two states in the Bay of Biscay, January 29, 1974;
Agreement concerning Joint Development of the Southern Part of the Continental Shelf Adjacent to the Two countries, between Japan and South Korea, February 5, 1974;
Agreement Relating to the Joint Exploitation of the Natural Resources of the Sea-bed and Sub-soil of the Red Sea in the Common Zone of Sudan and Saudi Arabia, May 16 1974;
Agreement Relating to the Joint Exploitation of the Frigg Field Reservoir and the Transmission of Gas there from to the United Kingdom, between the United Kingdom and Norway, may 10, 1976
Memorandum of understanding on the Establishment of a Joint Authority for the Exploitation of the Resources in the Sea-bed in a Defined area of the Continental Shelf of the Two Countries in the Gulf of Thailand, between Malaysia and Thailand, February 1979;
Agreement on the Continental Shelf between Iceland and Jan Mayen, between Iceland and Norway, October 22, 1981;
Agreement for the Exploitation of (and Investment in) the Joint Area between Two Sectors of Yemen, November 19, 1988;
Treaty on the Zone of Cooperation in an Area between the Indonesian Province of East Timor and North Australia, between Australia and Indonesia (Timor Gab Treaty) December 11, 1989;
Memorandum of Understanding for the Exploration and Exploitation of Petroleum in the Gulf of Thailand, between Malaysia and Vietnam, June 5, 1993;
Management and Cooperation Agreement between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, October 14, 1993;
Maritime Delimitation Treaty between Jamaica and Colombia, November 12, 1993;
Joint Declaration on Cooperation over Offshore Activities in the south West Atlantic between the United Kingdom and Argentina (Falkland Islands), September 27, 1995.
 Hazel Fox et al, supra note 75 at 45 (1989).
 Ong, supra note 44 at 788.
 Agreement between Japan and South Korea, supra note 123, in New Direction in the L of the Sea 117 (R.R. Churchill & Myran H. Nordguist eds, 1975). This situation was complicated by the conflicting claims of Taiwan, and later the Peoples Republic of China, to the same continental shelf area.
 Convention between France and Spain, supra note 123, in National Legislation and Treaties Relating to the law of the Sea 409, UN Doc. St/LEG/SER.B/16, UN States No. E/F.74.V.2 (1974).
 Agreement between Japan and South Korea, supra note 123, Article II (1), III (1), V (1) (b), VI, respectively.
 Id, Art. V (2).
 Id, Art XXV.
 Maritime Delimitation Treaty Between Jamaica and Columbia, supra note 123, in Maritime Boundaries, International Maritime Boundaries, at 219 - 220 (1998).
 Id, Art. 4 (1).
 Id, Art 4 (3).
 Joint Declaration on Co-operation between Argentina and the United Kingdom, supra note 123, in 35 ILM 301, (1996).
 Id. para 4 (a), (b), (c) and (d), respectively.
 Id, Annex.
 Id, para. 4 (b) (i-v).
 Ong, supra note 44, 791.
 Miyoshi, Oil and Gas, supra note 75 at 43-44. See also Id.
 Timor Gap Treaty, supra note 123, in 29 ILM, 469, (1990) reprinted in J.R.V. Prescott, Australia-Indonesia Report No 6-2 (5), Maritime Boundaries delimitations, at 1245.
 Id, Art 3 (1).
 Id, Art 7 (2).
 Id, Art 3 (2).
 Id, Annexes B and C.
 Malaysia - Thailand Joint Authority, supra note 123, in 6 Energy, 1355 (1981). See also Memorandum of Understanding (February 21 1979) and the Agreement on the Constitution and Other Matters Relating to the Establishment of the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Authority, Malaysia-Thailand Joint Authority Act 1990.
 Management and Cooperation Agreement between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, supra note 123, in Law Sea Bull, July 1996, at 40 and 42.
 TRIUMPH FOR UNCLOS The Guyana-Suriname Maritime Arbitration - A Compilation & Commentary, Shridath Ramphal, September 21, 2008 , < http://www.hansibpublications.com/TRIUMPH-FOR-UNCLOS-The-Guyana-Suriname-Maritime-Arbitration-A-Compilation-Commentary>, < Sir Shridath launches book on Guyana, Suriname maritime boundary dispute settlement, < https://www.stabroeknews.com/2008/news/guyana/09/21/sir-shridath-launches-book-on-guyana-suriname-maritime-boundary-dispute-settlement/>
 Henry Mac Donald, The Suriname - Guyana Maritime Boundary Dispute in Relation to the Exploration of Hydrocarbons, Do Current International Law and Principles Dictate an Amicable Solution to this Problem and is there an International Legal Obligation to Cooperate? American University, Washington College of laws, (Oil and Gas Law), Washington DC, July 2004.
 Dr. Jospeh E. Edmunds, OBE has been the Ambassador of St. Lucia to the United Nations, The Organization of American States and the United States of America.
 Joseph E. Edmunds, From Territorial Conflict to Mutually Ad Development, International Conference on Governance, Conflict Analysis, and Conflict Resolution, University of Guyana/Clark Atlanta Conference, Georgetown, Guyana, February 4-6, 2004.
By: Dr. Mr. Henry L. Mac Donald LL.M.