Argentina has threatened to defend its “rights and interests” after the first important discovery of oil in controversial waters near the Falkland Islands. This discovery is set to cause severe debates between Argentina and Great Britain.
Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Taiana declared: “British actions in the region are illegal and unilateral. My country will take all possible lawful steps to hinder British oil exploration and production there.”
After his statement, it was revealed on Thursday that the company Rockhopper Exploration had coincided with a 53m-thick layer of oil 220 km north of the island. It is thought that this much oil could fill hundreds of millions of barrels worth billions of dollars.
The two countries argued their territorial claims over the islands and their surrounding waters, and battled against each other in 1982 which cost hundreds of lives as a result.
The Argentine newspaper Clarín described the British as “pirates” and said that the British activity in the region “would push Argentina to its limits”.
Jan Cheek, a member of the Falkland Islands executive, accused Argentina of directing the islands’ economy for decades. She stated: “We have a force which is clearly large enough to act as a deterrent. I really do not believe Argentina will set off on a military adventure. They dispute our rights to the natural resources of the islands. But we are within our rights.”
Mr Taiana talked after Cheek’s speech, “The Argentine Government is taking decisive action to control sea trade between the continent and the islands, by taking measures that act as sanctions against all companies directly or indirectly involved in the exploration and exploitation of oil in the zone.”
The Foreign Minister’s statement ended with a call of unity among regional leaders in Latin America: “Confronted by illegal British exploration of our nonrenewable natural resources, Argentina depends on the support of the international community and especially Latin American and Caribbean countries.”
On Tuesday, at a swearing-in ceremony in Buenos Aires, the leaders of the union comprising 12 South American states once again promised to give their full support to Argentina in the dispute.