The Argentine government is looking for mechanisms to sanction all those vessels that somehow have participated in the Falkland Islands oil exploration logistics. Operations are set to begin next week with the arrival of the “Ocean Guardian” oil rig.
The Argentine Defence ministry apparently is tracking the rig’s course and this week supplied its Foreign Affairs counterpart with pictures of the “floating platform” being towed just south from the Uruguayan coastline, reports the Buenos Aires press.
On Thursday the Argentine Under Secretary for Ports and Waterways impeded the departure of the British flagged “Thor Leader” for having incurred “in contravention of rules relative to port operations which impede all kind of traffic with the Malvinas Islands usurped by Great Britain”.
This decision is in line with the Argentine Executive “energetic rejection of the British oil plan to explore for hydrocarbons in the disputed Malvinas area” according to the official release.
The vessel, caught in the middle of the controversy was loading at the port of Campana, belonging to the powerful Argentine-Italian steel group Siderca/Tenaris (Techint) 3.500 tons of seamless pipes manufactured at the local plant, and which according to the company were destined to the oil industry in Egypt.
The first Argentine reaction was that the pipes were destined for the Falklands but later it accused the vessel of having transported equipment and supplies for the oil exploration in the Islands, thus violating Argentine law.
However in spite of the serious incident, according to Buenos Aires media sources, the Argentine government is planning to go even further and for that reason has brought together an elite group of legal experts from the Foreign Affairs and Defence ministries, Customs, the Ports and Waterways office that have drafted a tentative decree which bars from Argentina all those merchant vessels (general cargo) that have been involved or are in the course of participating in the Falklands/Malvinas oil exploration activities.
The idea is to elaborate a registry with statistical data of vessel movements in the area and cross them with ship activities both in Britain and the Falklands. The group is also assessing the legal framework and the commercial impact of the enforcement of such measures.
This is considered part of the strategy master-minded at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to create a framework of “insecurity” for all the “illegal” activities in the disputed area which are geared to exploit “our resources”.
“Offshore oil drilling is a very high risk operation and if a sense of insecurity can be injected, it should further discourage the enterprise”, said Argentine official sources.
Meantime the Techint group again emphatically denied the pipes loaded on the “Thor Leader” were for the Falklands and invited the government to send observers until the cargo is unloaded in Egypt.
The Argentine opposition in the Lower House has asked for Minister Jorge Taiana to be summoned to report on the “Thor Leader” incident, believing the government is “over-acting”.
“In foreign affairs it is essential to reach the necessary consensus that enable us to set the basics for a State policy that ensures the standing exercise of sovereignty in the framework of International Law”, said Raul Alfonsin, opposition member from the Lower House.