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Argentina To Sanction Oil Firms Drilling Off Disputed Falklands

Argentina is looking to impose sanctions on UK and Israeli oil firms for what it claims are illegal drilling activities off the Falkland Islands, a UK-run territory that has been at the center of a long-running dispute between the UK and Argentina.

Argentinian energy secretary Darío Martínez said at a news conference on Wednesday that the government had started a process to sanction UK-based Harbour Energy, which was created from the recent merger of Chrysaor and Premier Oil, as well as Israel’s Navitas Petroleum for “illegitimately drilling” off the Falklands, which Argentina calls Islas Malvinas.

The Falkland Islands, a UK-run territory, have been a long-standing territorial dispute between the UK and Argentina, who also staged a brief war over the Falklands in 1982.

Tensions between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands still flare up every few years. Nearly three years ago, the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom was said to have intercepted an Argentinian survey ship that a Navy commander suggested had been ‘snooping for oil’ on the edge of British territorial waters off the Falkland Islands.

On Wednesday, Martínez held a press conference to announce sanctions regarding “the illegal exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Argentine Continental Shelf,” the energy secretary said.

“There are companies that are neither authorized nor have they requested any type of authorization from the Republic of Argentina to operate in the North Malvinas Basin. That is why we started a procedure to notify and then sanction the companies, within the regulations allowed,” Martínez added.

Since Argentina doesn’t recognize the British rule over the Falklands, it considers any authorizations illegal and issued by “illegitimate authorities.”

The Argentinian center-left government has stepped up rhetoric that the Falklands are Argentinian territory. The government has also said it is seeking to achieve an “energy independence” in the country.

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Argentina continues to bet on its shale resources and its largest shale play, Vaca Muerta in the Neuquen province.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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