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Argentina to sue over Falklands oil exploration

posted 15 Mar 2012, 13:56 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 15 Mar 2012, 13:57 ]

Argentina puts heat on oil firms exploring in Falkland waters, warning they will sue the companies involved.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (MARCH 15, 2012) (REUTERS - Argentina will take legal action at home and abroad against any companies involved in oil exploration off the Falkland Islands, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said on Thursday (March 15).

Thirty years after it repelled an Argentine invasion of the Falklands (known in Spanish as Las Malvinas), Britain has vowed to defend the archipelago, saying it will negotiate sovereignty or oil rights only if the 3,000 islanders want that.

But Argentina mounted diplomatic pressure on Thursday as Timerman announced they will go after companies working on drilling around the South Atlantic archipelago.

"We will start the appropriate administrative, civil and criminal actions against the oil companies that are currently engaged in illegitimate activities, the ones who before received notifications that they were doing something illegal," he said.

At a news conference in Buenos Aires, the minister called the exploration and drilling activities "illegal". He said Argentina will bring civil and criminal charges to sanction the companies involved.

"By giving Great Britain illegitimate licences, all these companies are entering illegal territory on different levels and in different ways. But they are running a risk they are going to have to assume, whether it's for reporting to clients or financing these activities. What we are going to do in the end is defend our natural resources. The gas and oil that is found in the South Atlantic belongs to the Argentines and the government assumes the responsibility of taking care of that," Timerman said.

Argentina says Britain is flouting U.N. resolutions that call for talks and prohibit any unilateral action as long as the sovereignty dispute persists.

"We assume the responsibility of defending Argentina's natural resources. We are going to move forward with this case. We are going to use all our means to punish them and try to get the laws to apply and finally get the UN resolutions to be respected. Great Britain has to follow the UN resolution, especially the resolution 20.65, which is the first one that talks about peaceful resolution to conflicts over sovereignty," he added.

Britain reacted by saying it supported the rights of Falkland islanders to exploit their oil reserves. This was an "integral part of the right of self-determination", a British Foreign Office spokesman said.

Several companies have drilled in waters off the islands. British explorer Rockhopper has been seeking a partner to invest in the $2 billion Sea Lion project.

Borders & Southern and Falkland Oil & Gas are set to drill wells south of the islands this year.