Guyana's government on Friday accused the Venezuelan navy of detaining an oil survey vessel in its territorial waters, calling the incident a "threat to peace" in the region.

Guyana's Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement that "strongly condemned" the seizure of the ship, which was conducting seismic survey work under contract for U.S.-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

Venezuela contests Guyana's claim to the waters where the incident occurred.

The Venezuelan navy frigate on Thursday ordered the RV Teknik Perdana to halt operations and then escorted it to Venezuela's Margarita Island, where the ship's crew is still being held.

"It was then clear the vessel and its crew were not only being escorted out of Guyana's waters, but were under arrest. These actions by the Venezuelan naval vessel are unprecedented in Guyana-Venezuela relations," the statement said.

"Guyana intends to employ all peaceful means to facilitate a return to the status quo ante since neither the Venezuelan frigate, the agents of Venezuela, its government nor any other state has the authority to exercise any action in Guyana's territorial waters, its continental shelf or its exclusive economic zone without its express consent," Georgetown said.

Anadarko holds a prospecting license for a block located in Guyanese waters off the coast of the state of Roraima, which, according to Georgetown, is where the ship was when the incident occurred.

Venezuela's navy, therefore, "acted in contravention of the laws of Guyana and indeed international law," Guyanese authorities say.

EFE