San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

As Costa Rica and Colombia protest drilling, Nicaraguan military to protect oil rig in the Caribbean

MANAGUA – Nicaragua’s army will protect an oil rig that’s involved in a controversial drilling project in the Caribbean Sea, an official Nicaraguan source said Wednesday, as Colombia and Costa Rica are contesting who has authority over the area.

Nicaragua LTD Noble Energy, the organization responsible for the operation, and the military agreed that the activities of “surveillance and monitoring” will occur during the drilling and exploration of the platform, said the army in a statement.

The agreement was signed by the head of the army, General Julio Avilés, and the manager of Noble Energy, David Nock.

Noble Energy began drilling on Aug. 18 in a place known as Paradise South WEll 1, located 168 kilometers from Bluefields, the departmental head of the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS).

The concession, which covers the area known as “Isabel Bank” and “Tyra Bank” in the Caribbean, was awarded to Noble Energy in 2009 to explore and exploit hydrocarbons.

Results of studies under way by the company will be known in 90 days, which is the estimated time for the drilling process, Energy and Mines Minister Emilio Rappacciolli told local media.

Colombia and Costa Rica claim to own the areas where the drilling is occuring, and have protested against Nicaragua awarding oil concessions in those parts of the Caribbean. But authorities did not clarify whether this particular maritime area is the target of an official complaint on behalf of both countries.

Bogotá does not recognize a ruling by the International Court of Justice from last November that established maritime limits between Nicaragua and the South American country.

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