BUENOS AIRES: Argentina last Friday initiated legal proceedings against five companies for drilling for oil and gas in the disputed Falklands Islands, which Argentina claims as its own and calls the Malvinas, BBC News reported. Daniel Filmus, Argentina’s minister for the islands, announced the legal proceedings in London, saying the companies are “performing illegal acts by entering Argentine territory” and that a judge in Rio Grande, Argentina had agreed to take the case.
The companies involved are U.K. based Premier Oil, Falkland Oil and Gas and Rockhopper as well as U.S. based Edison International and Noble Energy.
“I want to make it clear for the directors of these companies and for British public opinion that Argentina will use the full force of the law both national and international law to prevent these countries from taking the riches which belong to 40 million Argentine citizens,” Filmus said, adding that those found guilty of illegal exploration would face sentences of five to 10 years in prison.
In response, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Argentina is engaging in “an outrageous piece of bullying,” Al-Jazeera reported. The government of the Falkland Islands said, “We have the right to develop our economy, including the hydrocarbons industry, and we are exercising that right.” Analysts told BBC that Argentina is not likely to prevail in court.
Earlier this month, the three British oil companies announced that they had found oil and gas in the first well drilled as part of a nine-month exploration plan.