Venezuela Detains Anadarko Oil Vessel in Disputed Waters

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 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.

Both Venezuela and Guyana claim the area as their sovereign territory.

“Venezuela expresses deepest pre-occupation with the way foreign vessels authorized by the government of Guyana intrude without permission into our territory,” Venezuela’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in an e-mailed statement today.

A Venezuela Navy gunboat “entreated” the Panama-registered MV Teknik “to accompany them” to Margarita Island, where they will arrive at 6:30 a.m. New York time tomorrow, Venezuela said.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman was unable to confirm reports of the vessel’s arrest.

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. He said no Anadarko employees were on board.

Venezuela and Guyana have had border disputes since 1841, according to the 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.

Guyana 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.

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