Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela frees seized US-operated ship Teknik Perdana

Venezuelan Coast Guard boat sits next to the 285-foot survey ship Teknik Perdana docked near the shore in Margarita Island, Venezuela, Sunday Oct. 13, 2013
Image caption Venezuela accused the Teknik Perdana of "illegal activities"

The owners of a US-operated oil ship which was detained by the Venezuelan navy on Thursday say the vessel has been released.

The Venezuelan navy had boarded the Teknik Perdana on Thursday in disputed waters off the coast of Guyana and sailed it to Venezuela's Margarita island.

Caracas accused the crew of operating illegally in Venezuelan waters.

Its owners said all 36 crew, among them five US citizens, had been released.

Owners SapuraKencana Petroleum said they wished "to express their gratitude to the Venezuelan government for caring for the safety and welfare of the crew, which comprises multiple nationalities, during the time they were at Margarita island and also for releasing the vessel".

The Venezuelan government has not given an indication as to why it decided to let the ship sail.

The Venezuelan foreign ministry had accused the Teknik Perdana of "carrying out illegal activities" within a maritime area claimed by Venezuela.

Its Guyanese counterpart said that "the Teknik Perdana was in Guyana's waters when this incident took place".

The two foreign ministers were due to meet on Thursday in Trinidad and Tobago to discuss the ship's seizure.

The Teknik Perdana, which had been contracted out to Texas-based company Anadarko Petroleum, had been carrying out a survey of the seabed off the coast of Essequibo.

Venezuela has been claiming the Essequibo region as its own since the 19th Century, when Guyana was still a British colony.

President Nicolas Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart, Donald Ramotar, said in August that they would seek help from the United Nations to solve the dispute.

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