(Trinidad & Tobago News, 25.Feb.2020) — In a Statement delivered at the Opening of the Energy Conference recently Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley dishonestly sought to create false and misleading expectations in an election year namely that:
— T&T can gain continental shelf-access to and cash in on the huge hydrocarbon producing resources currently being exploited by Guyana, sometime in the future; by getting the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental to agree to extend the maritime limits of T&T beyond 200 miles measured from its straight archipelagic baselines promulgated in 1986 by Order in complete violation of the provisions of the 2006 T&T/Barbados Arbitral Tribunal Award, the 1993 TT/Venezuela Delimitation Agreement and the tenets of the 1986 Law of the Sea Convention.
— On the basis of the 2006 T&T/Barbados Award T&T became a zone-locked state with no point located beyond 200 miles. It is hemmed in by Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada to the North, Venezuela to the West, South and East and Barbados and Venezuela/Guyana to the East.
T&T does not have either maritime jurisdiction or control over any maritime areas actual or potential located beyond 200 miles that can be subsumed now or in the future under the regime of the Continental Shelf of the Law of the Sea Convention.
It is a zone-locked state for all intents and purposes.
How therefore can any responsible Prime Minister in opening a major Energy Conference in his own Capital City in the presence of technical experts and in the face of a precariously dwindling domestic and off-shore energy sector and current closures at Point Lisas suggest that T&T is potentially near to and can share in Guyana’s eight billion cretaceous high yielding hydrocarbon province?
The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf cannot alter the decision of a duly constituted Arbitral Tribunal to accord jurisdiction and control (Continental shelf rights) to T&T beyond 200 miles on the extended Continental Shelf when T&T possesses no such access—real or imaginary or potential?
The Commission is a technical advisory group made up of hydrographers and geologists of international repute—not a Law of the Sea adjudicating institution.
This is a red herring being tangled in front of us by a bankrupt regime with no strategic ideas on how to treat with the many maritime challenges that we still face with Guyana, Barbados and Venezuela.
Their only solution is closures after closures with Lake Asphalt next on the chopping block with no alternative approaches.
By Stephen Kangal