London, Jul 14: Great Britain and Argentina have found themselves on a collision course over the disputed Falkland Islands after the former recently decided to back a plan worth 600 million Pounds to develop oil reserves in the South Atlantic. The British Foreign Office said the hydrocarbons exploration was a legitimate business.
The two countries witnessed a flare-up on the issue barely three weeks ago, at the G20 Summit. They even had a military conflict in 1982 over the Falkland Islands.
Buenos Aires has threatened criminal and civil charges against firms operating in the disputed area after the British government supported the decision of Premier Oil to buy 60 per cent stake in a licence to explore oil in the Falkland Islands. According to Great Britain, it was determined to help the people of the Falklands to develop their economy and the drilling plan was a necessary step towards that.
Premier has bought the holding from Rockhopper Exploration, which has been looking for a partner to help improve the Sea Lion field, which experts believe to hold over 300 million barrels of oil.
Admitting that the entire episode involved political risk, Premier sources said it was a common problem in other parts of the world as well and that there was no possibility of any military confrontation on the matter.
Argentine authorities had earlier written to Rockhopper and other UK-based companies against drilling in the Falklands but British sources said her threats had no international basis and her laws did not apply to the Falklands. The British government had also announced in June that it was eager to hold a referendum on the Falklands to permanently settle the issue of sovereignty. Argentina, however, looked to be in no mood to give up its claims on the Falklands.
(With inputs from The Guardian)