Argentina sues British oil companies

Oil exploration platform in seas around Malvinas.

Three British oil companies are violating Argentine law by carrying out exploration efforts without permission from the state, Argentina says.

Argentine Minister of Malvinas said on April 17 that an Argentine judge will soon open the prosecution against three British-based oil companies conducting exploratory activities in the Malvinas Islands, and possibly two others from the US.

The Argentine government has stated that foreign companies are violating Argentine law by carrying out exploration efforts without permission from the state.

The Malvinas (known in Britain as the Falkland Islands) are an archipeligo in the South Atlantic ocean claimed by Britain. Argentina disputes British sovereignty and says it took the islands from the South American nation illegally in the 19th century.

The three companies facing judicial prosecutions are Premier Oil, Falkland Oil and Gas, and Rockhopper. They had announced in March that they had discovered oil and gas in an offshore area north of the Malvinas Islands.

British foreign secretary Philip Hammond replied in an interview with Sky News: “It is an outrageous piece of bullying and threatening against the Falkland Islanders’ perfect right to develop their own economic resources and Argentina needs to stop this kind of behavior and start acting like a responsible member of the international community.”

Argentina's new judicial offensive coincides with the 33-year anniversary marking the start of the war between Argentina and Britain over the sovereignty of the Malvinas.

In March, the Argentine government urged Britain to return to the negotiating table over the Malvinas Islands in response to a planned “beef up” of its military presence on the disputed islands.

“The Argentine government reiterates that dialogue and negotiation, not weapons, are the only way to resolve the issue,” Argentina's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry described the “growing militarisation” of the disputed islands as “absolutely unjustifiable.” The statement was in response to a planned US$417 million increase in funding to military installations on the islands.

British defense minister Michael Fallon first suggested boosting the military presence on the islands in an interview with the BBC. Fallon claimed Argentina's rumored plans to obtain 12 long range bombers from Russia posed a “threat” to the islands that Britain must “respond” to.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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