Falklands Oil: Argentina Continues to Grumble
Argentine state prosecutors have, as threatened, filed suit against five oil companies involved in the current drilling round for not obtaining Argentine permits. The case was filed in Rio Grande in the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego which supposedly includes the Falkland Islands. The companies concerned are FOGL, Edison, Noble, Premier Oil and Rockhopper plus companies providing logistical and technical support e.g. Petroleum Geo Services, Neptune, Desire Petroleum and Ocean Rig (which supplied the rig, Erike Raude).
But this has not alarmed the companies concerned who have stated that Argentine law does not apply in the Falklands and that they are operating under licence from the Falkland Islands Government. The Foreign Secretary, Mr Hammond, called it "an outrageous piece of bullying and a threat to the Falkland Islands' right to develop their own economic resources".
The Argentines also tried to make capital of the fact that the Erike Raude has had temporarily to suspend drilling at the Isobel Deep well because of a technical problem with the BOP (blow out preventer). But this merely shows that proper safety standards were being applied. FIG representatives commented that the Falkland Islands Government requires the highest safety standards on oil companies operating in Falklands waters based on North Sea safety protocols.
Daniel Filmus, Argentine Secretary for the Falklands, complained about what he termed as the illegal exploration for oil around the Falklands during a speech at Canning House last week. This trotted out the usual Argentine claim to sovereignty and, probably purposefully, he left little time for questions. The audience was not sympathetic and Falkland islands Legislative Assembly Member, Barry Elsby, was able to put across the Islanders' position forcefully, if briefly. Filmus even claimed that Argentina had done nothing to harm the Falklands economy; hardly credible when the Argentine government has placed restrictions on trade and other links with the Islands and pesters other countries in the region to do the same!
For all its bluster and posturing, Argentina has failed to achieve any progress towards its declared aim of achieving sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, which remain determinedly and justifiably British.