Argentina further tightens the noose on the Falkland Islands
The Argentine senate unanimously approved Wednesday a bill that bars companies and persons from participating in hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation activities in the Argentine continental platform (which includes the Falkland Islands), and proscribes fines for infractions and barring periods of time from 5 to 20 years for companies that violate the law.
The bill had been approved last year in the Lower House and was promoted by opposition Deputy Fernando ‘Pino’ Solanas who is also a presidential pre-candidate for next October’s election in representation of the minority, Buenos Aires based Movimiento Proyecto Sur (South project movement).
The bill is targeted to impede companies located in Argentina from supporting oil activities in the Falkland Islands, which do not have the approval of the Argentine government.
According to Clarin, British Embassy sources defended the “right of the Falkland Islands government and people to develop their oil and gas industry”, which is supported by London and is “legitimate”.
Argentina’s policy under the Kirchner presidencies (beginning 2003) has been to consistently protest and present its sovereignty claims over the Falklands, --and who is authorized to develop the Islands’ resources--, in all possible international forums.
The bill approved in the Senate is in line with the Kirchner administration’s decisions and decrees relative to the Falklands and its insistence in ignoring the Islands inhabitants, and demand London abides by UN resolutions calling for sovereignty talks.
Argentina has managed support and explicit declarations from all regional forums: Mercosur, Unasur, Rio Group, Latin America’s summits.
“With all the power of this bill Argentina will impede that companies located in this country to support the illegal exploitation of hydrocarbons that Great Britain is pushing ahead with in our Islas Malvinas”, said Pino Solanas in his Facebook. He added that “we have achieved the full commitment of lawmakers with a policy of active defence of our national resources”.
“It’s the first real step towards the recovery of our strategic resources and to control our off-shore oil and gas reserves” he emphasized.
The main points of the bill indicate that:
“All hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation activities in the Islas Malvinas, Georgias del Sur and Sandwich del Sur must be subject to Argentine law”.
“No Argentine or foreign company authorized to operate in Argentina, or its shareholders will:
“Undertake oil activities in the Islands without previous authorization from the Argentine government”
“Have direct or indirect participation in any company involved in oil activities in the Argentine Continental Platform without having previous authorization from the Argentine government to operate or provide whatever services needed for those activities”
“Be involved in business deals with any company or person with the purpose of helping them develop oil activities in the Islands without authorization from the Argentine government”
“The companies or persons that violate the above mentioned prohibitions will be barred for 5 to 20 years, besides the criminal sanctions that might correspond. If those companies or persons have been awarded oil concessions, they will automatically revert to the Argentine government. Furthermore, any exemption or facilities related to taxes and social security contributions which they might enjoy will be revoked”
“No federal, provincial or municipal authority can agree to contracts with companies that directly or indirectly are involved in oil activities in the Argentine Continental Platform without previous authorization from the Argentine government to operate, or with its shareholders”
“The Argentine government will publish a list of those Argentine and foreign companies which are involved, without previous authorization, in oil activities in the Islas Malvinas”.
“If this project had been approved by the Senate and regulated on time we wouldn’t feel abused by the presence of a British oil exploration vessel in the port of Mar del Plata and our motherland would have reaffirmed in the economic field our sovereignty”, added Pino Solanas.
Since the bill was promoted by a member of the opposition the Executive promulgation can be expected at a politically favourable moment for the administration of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, particularly in an electoral year.