Oil Reserves in the Caribbean Shifting Geopolitical Scales

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    The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – We have read how Latin America is the largest and fastest growing emerging market on the globe, but with that, consider that the oil reserves under the Caribbean Basin are on the same scale as those of the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden combined and further, that studies indicate three thousand more times natural gas than oil.

    Big oil companies, and governments from Haiti to Costa Rica, are highly focused on their respective energy reserves. This is the reason why there has been a plethora of territory disputes, in the Caribbean although mostly ignored by main stream media.

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    According to Atlas Caribbean (, two thirds of the Caribbean’s international maritime boundaries have yet to be the object of an agreed convention between the bordering states in question.


    Costa Rica and Nicaragua currently have 2 maritime disputes in the Caribbean. One reported early last week by TCRN, (International Court of Justice Rejects Requests of Costa Rica and Nicaragua over Disputed Territory (, and another that seemingly is over a small island at the mouth of the San Juan River.

    As reported by the Nicaraguan Dispatch, the Nicaragua Costa Rica dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) once again just this past week is about oil not an island. The disputed five-square-kilometer island at the mouth of the San Juan border river, on the Caribbean, hardly looks like it’s worth fighting over, but whoever owns that island also controls 11,000-square kilometer of Caribbean maritime territory—like most of the Caribbean, an area thought to be ripe for oil natural exploration.

    Nicaraguan geologists say features such as the limestone and reef conditions off the coast of the disputed island indicate oil reserves, although oil deposits has never been confirmed or explored by either country.

    The second depute Costa Rica is protesting to the ICJ is Nicaragua attempt to provide oil blocks in the Caribbean, San Jose claiming these territories as theirs.

    The Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo, “Nicaragua requires no concessions for the exploration or exploitation of blocks or maritime areas in both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, which violate maritime spaces belonging to Costa Rica”. There are, allegedly, 5 American companies and 1 Spain company eying these blocks.

    Castillo believes that Nicaragua did not want to alert the “potential bidders” that its maritime boundary with Costa Rica are not defined and that some of the areas offered “owned or claimed by Costa Rica”.

    Costa Rica will not recognize any rights or potential effect arising from these concessions and recalled that negotiations on maritime boundaries between the two countries were suspended in 2005.

    “As a result, Costa Rica reiterated its invitation to Nicaragua to continue negotiations aimed at defining the maritime boundary in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea,” said Castillo in the diplomatic note.

    Since Petrocaribe’s implementation in 2005, the Caribbean region has benefited enormously from the operation. Member countries, such as Jamaica, Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, Nicaragua and Honduras, were permitted to pay 40% of Venezuelan oil imports within 90 days and pay the remaining 60% at low annual interest rate of 1% over a 17-25 year period.

    After Hugo Chavez’s death, the future does not look so good. The present president, Nicolás Maduro, recently increased the 1% interest rate to, in some cases, as high as 4%1. Venezuela is undoubtedly one of the region’s largest creditor.

    Last year, Jamaica was estimated to owe Venezuela approximately $2.4 billion for oil. While, according to Bloomberg, some have estimated that 35% of external Caribbean debt will be owed to Venezuela by the year 2015.

    As developed nations now see the Caribbean oil rush as the new focus, and much easier to access and control than the problematic Middle East. As a result the disputes between countries with territory in the Caribbean are escalating and experts predict these disputes will only grow and become more aggressive as exploration exposes the true value of the energy reserves under the Caribbean.

    The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
    San Jose, Costa Rica

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