Argentine foreign minister Susana Malcorra has announced that Argentina has definitive international support for its defined continental shelf limits, with the exception of the Falklands/Malvinas, South Georgia, in dispute with the UK, and those covered by the Antarctic Treaty, which are not considered by the UN because of a sovereignty litigation or an international treaty.
Ms Malcorra said that Argentina had received a positive recommendation from the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), accepting the demarcation of two additional points on the northern limits of the continental shelf.
The points are between the 39th and 42nd parallels, south of the border with Uruguay and demarcating the waters of the River Plate.
As such the continental shelf has been expanded by 1,633 square kilometers since 2009. Malcorra noted that recommendations issued by the CLCS are further to those in 2016 — which vastly expanded Argentina’s maritime territory, 35%, in the Atlantic. Differences in scientific and legal opinion lead to the exclusion of the northerly points in 2016 but a new submission by Buenos Aires resulted in the new recommendation.
“When one you have a guiding light that transcends administration these results are achieved” said Malcorra when she announced the result, noting that various governments of diverse political extractions have advocated Argentina’s case before the CLCS.
“Today we celebrated that the entire limit of the shelf has been defined, which gives us certainty, it confirms Argentina’s limit on the ocean and it adds a important amount of kilometers that are now totally defined in our favor, with all of the wealth that exists in the shelf below its waters.”
However contrary to what was expressed a year ago when the original CLCS recommendation was made public and Argentina interpreted this as an additional 1.7 million square kilometers of sea shelf, this time Malcorra admitted that the extended maritime territory in effect recognized the exception of the Falklands, South Georgia areas because of the ongoing dispute with Great Britain. Likewise with the claims over areas covered by the Antarctic Treaty.
Malcorra said this time that the latest Argentine 1.633 sq kilometers claim was finally accepted, above the original 2009 presentation, for which the country provided reports from bathymetry, seismology, geology, geodesics, geophysics and cartography experts. This was achieved with collaboration from the different ministries and even oil and gas corporation YPF, with long experience drilling offshore.
Now we must incorporate these changes to maps and nautical charts, said Frida Armas Pfirter, Argentina's coordinator of the Continental Shelf external limits national commission, Copla.
”It is a maritime territory beyond the 200 miles EEZ (Economic Exclusive Zone). It refers to the continental shelf where international fishing is allowed but all resources on the sea bottom and below are exclusive of Argentina
Ms Armas Pfiter said it is a thick sediment which most probably is very rich in hydrocarbons and methane gas, all of which must be discovered.
Maria Teresa Kralikas, head of the Malvinas desk at the Argentine foreign ministry said that the UN CLCS does not address issues in which there is a dispute between two or more countries, so this was no surprise. Similarly with the Antarctica territories.
But pointed out Ms Kralikas, The fact that CLCS has stated that there is a sovereignty conflict, is another recognition of the existence of this conflict”
In practical terms the latest CLCS recommendation means that the Argentine additional maritime territory, on continental shelf, extending from the 200 miles EEZ to the external limit, presented in 2009, and which was 1.782.645 sq kilometers, with the latest addition of 1.633 sq kilometers now adds up to 1.783.278 sq kilometers.