BUENOS AIRES – The oil and gas exploration activities being undertaken by Noble Energy Falklands Limited in an area near the disputed Falkland Islands are “illegal” and “clandestine,” the Argentine government said.
Argentina claims sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, which Latin Americans call the Malvinas and are under British control.
The Energy Ministry said in a resolution published on Tuesday in the Official Bulletin that it notified the Foreign Ministry and prosecutors of the decision to outlaw Noble’s operations “to allow them to take the legal actions they consider necessary in their areas of jurisdiction.”
Federal Judge Lilian Herraez, who is based in the city of Rio Grande, ordered the seizure of $156.4 million worth of assets, as well as the impounding of ships and confiscation of other property, belonging to oil companies that operate illegally in Falklands waters.
Noble Energy Falklands Limited is not registered with the Energy Secretariat, which sent a strongly worded statement to the company via the Foreign Ministry in October 2014, the government said.
The oil company did not respond to the statement and the government declared its operations illegal, officials said.
In August 2013, the government barred four British oil companies carrying out exploration work in waters near the Falkland Islands from operating in Argentina.
The measure targeted Borders & Southern Petroleum, Desire Petroleum, Argos Resources and Falkland Oil and Gas.
In May 2012, Argentina’s Energy Secretariat declared the companies’ activities in waters near the disputed islands to be “illegal and clandestine.”
The South Atlantic archipelago was the object of a brief war in the early 1980s pitting Argentina against Britain.
Argentine troops invaded the Falklands on April 2, 1982, at the order of the military junta then in power in Buenos Aires.
Full-fledged fighting officially began on May 1, 1982, with the arrival of a British task force, and ended 45 days later with the surrender of the Argentines.
The conflict claimed nearly 1,000 lives – some 700 Argentines and 255 British soldiers and sailors.
Buenos Aires demands that Britain comply with a 1965 United Nations resolution describing London’s control of the Falklands – which dates from 1833 – as colonialism and calling on the parties to resolve the dispute through dialogue.
London has refused to discuss the question of sovereignty and says the Falklanders should decide their own future.