Oil and fisheries will spearhead Argentina's new efforts in its sovereignty claims over the Falkland Islands, according to Martin Dinatale, an Argentine columnist with good contacts in the foreign ministry and who has followed the Islands dispute for years.
This involves inviting international companies to a round of oil exploration licenses in the South Atlantic, in the extended area of the Argentine continental shelf, recognized by the United Nations. However this round will not include the adjoining area of the Falklands, to avoid a direct confrontation with the Islanders and London.
But the objective is to ensure a greater presence of Argentina in the South Atlantic and even the possibility that oil companies currently committed to the Falklands could be convinced to turn to Argentine waters.
”The recent approval by Congress of the bill extending the continental shelf (and sea bed sovereignty from 200 to 350 miles) will widen the possibilities of exploiting hydrocarbons in the South Atlantic, according to Daniel Filmus, Malvinas Islands Secretary. This was addressed last week by president Alberto Fernandez, foreign minister Felipe Solá, Filmus and the new Energy Secretary Dario Martinez who was instructed to prepare a draft for the oil round.
Filmus recalled that currently five petroleum companies are operating in the Falklands/Malvinas and have been charged for operating in an area claimed by Argentina, among which some are from UK, Italy, France and USA.
But instead of pressing on with legal action, as happened in the previous Kirchner governments, this time Argentina believes that with the invitation to the oil round, some of those companies might desist of operating in the Falklands zone and following a sworn statement could move to operate in the Argentine continental shelf area”
Apparently this is what happened back in 2014, when British Petroleum sent a letter to the Argentine foreign ministry desisting from its involvement in the Falklands and opted to operate in the Vaca Muerta shale deposits. Along this vein Argentina believes the companies operating in Falklands' waters could opt for the continental shelf and greater legal certainty, which is currently questionable
Likewise with fisheries and the new bill on fines to be approved by the Argentine congress next Tuesday, and the fact that the extension of the continental shelf opens the opportunity for capturing so called sedentary marine resources, and below the sea bed minerals and other potential resources. .
Under the bill, which brushes aside the 1998 scheme, illegal fishing sanctions will be based on the so called Fisheries Unit, which is to be calculated equivalent to the price of a liter of diesel oil fuel. Argentina is concerned that illegal fishing in the country's EEZ has increased substantially, and with stiffer fines and improved patrolling the situation will begin to change.