(AP) The government of Guyana said Friday that Venezuela's navy detained a ship operated by a U.S. oil company in waters disputed by the neighboring South American countries.
The ship was conducting a seismic survey under contract for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. on Thursday when it was stopped by a Venezuelan navy vessel and escorted to Margarita Island in Venezuela, where the crew was under arrest, the Guyanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Guyana said the crew was well within its territorial waters but that the Venezuelan navy informed them that they were operating in that country's exclusive economic zone and ordered an immediate halt to the survey. The two countries been disputing both their land and ocean borders for decades.
The government of Guyana said it has expressed its "grave concerns" to Venezuela and requested the immediate release of the vessel and its crew.
"The actions taken by the Venezuelan navy vessel constitute a serious threat to the peace of this sub-region and the Government of Guyana therefore strongly condemns these actions," the Foreign Ministry said.
Anadarko Petroleum, based near Houston, Texas, said it would issue a statement later. The U.S. State Department also had no immediate comment but was aware of the situation.
The ship, the RV Teknik Perdana, was operating in what is known as the Roraima concession block, an area of increased exploration in recent years. Guyana said that the vessel was merely collecting seismic data and that there was "ample time" to discuss any differences over the region with Venezuela since the actual exploration work had not yet started.