Argentina slams 'illegal' British claim on Falkland oil

7th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Argentina on Thursday denounced what it termed the "illegal appropriation" by Britain of oil in the Falkland Islands, where a British oil company said it had made a discovery of crude oil.

"Argentina strenuously rejects Britain's attempt to illegally appropriate non-renewable natural resources" in the waters off the island chain, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The statement declared the islands "the property of the Argentine people" and said Buenos Aires would take measures, in keeping with international law, to prevent Britain from gaining access to the oil.

The Argentine government also vowed to take unspecified "measures to sanction any enterprise that has a hand, directly or indirectly, in the exploration or exploitation" of Falklands oil.

The statement was issued as the British company Rockhopper, an oil and gas exploration concern, announced Thursday it had made a discovery of crude oil in a well in the Atlantic archipelago.

"We are extremely excited by the results of this well," Rockhopper managing director Samuel Moody said in a statement.

Argentina and Britain went to war in 1982 over the remote south Atlantic archipelago, which is known in the Spanish-speaking world as the Malvinas. The islands lie 450 kilometers (280 miles) off Argentina's Atlantic coast.

Britain recaptured the islands following an Argentine military invasion, but Buenos Aires has never abandoned its claim to ownership and has vigorously protested oil exploration by the British.

On Tuesday, South American leaders endorsed the Argentine position at a summit by the 12-nation Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), charging that the oil exploration was being "illegally carried out."

The statement said the oil prospecting violated a UN resolution that called on London and Buenos Aires to resolve their differences over the archipelago.

© 2010 AFP

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