The Malvinas AKA as The Falklands issue has taken another turn, which could heighten diplomatic tension regarding sovereignty between Argentina and Britain after one of the drilling platforms hired by a Malvinas company was found exploring in Argentine waters on Thursday.
The LeivEiriksson platform bears the Bahamas flag and was contracted by Borders & Southern Plc and Falkland Oil and Gas Ltd and can be added to the same list as the Ocean Guardian, the oil rig hired by Rockhopper Exploration Plc which has been exploring to the north of the islands since 2010.
The LeivEiriksson, which is 120 metres long and 86 metres high, moves with the support of two ships: the Toisa Intrepid and the multipurpose ToisaSonat.
At the end of last month, the LeivEiriksson was located very close to 200 miles from the Argentine continental shelf, which caused alarm among local authorities.
However, in recent days both the LeivEiriksson and its accompanying vessels have violated the borders of what Argentina denominates the nation’s Economic Exclusion Zone.
Its mission, according to the oil company, is to drill two deep wells to the south and southeast of the archipelago, at the edge of Argentina’s national territory.
According to what Ambito.com could learn, the platform advanced between 8-10 nautical miles beyond the pre-determined limits, to 190 miles off the Argentine coast.
The oil rig and companion ships spent over 90 hours in that location exploring or carrying out exploratory tasks, which led to speculation that the company is considering a third well, located within Argentine territorial waters. Irrefutable satellite images show that on Wednesday the platform was located at the coordinates -53°59’54’7 south -58°76’51’1 west. However, by midday yesterday it had retreated and briefly sailed toward the Islands before dropping anchor at 53°35’44’63 south and 58°45’55’13 west. According to sources with access to the Mompesat satellite monitoring system, the positioning of the platform was brought to the attention of the authorities.
"In recent months we detected that they were on the point of violating our economic exclusion zone and for this reason we have been constantly monitoring," said the source.
Meanwhile, sources linked to the Foreign Ministry confirmed that this is not the first time that an oil rig violates the zone limits, although it is the first time that this has happened since the diplomatic conflict bubbled to the surface in January. According to those sources, the Ocean Guardian, exploring to the north of the archipelago since 2010 is also positioned within Argentina's continental shelf.
The same sources also stressed that Argentina has often protested to the United Kingdom and that organizations like the UNASUR, CELAC and the UN Convention on Rights to the Sea (CONVEMAR) have often been notified of these infractions.
"This exploration is illegal. The coastal state which should be providing exploration licences for this area is Argentina and not the United Kingdom," revealed a source. Argentina also sent notes of discouragement to the companies involved — both the oil companies as well as the accompanying ships and support vessels.
The real conflict between Great Britain and Argentina is that they do not agree on the limitations of the continental shelf. For the Argentine state, according to the presentation by COPLA (National Committee for the Limit of the Continental Shelf) to the United Nations, "the continental shelf of a bordering state includes the sea bed and sub-marine layers which extend beyond its territorial sea and across the length of the natural extension of its territory to the outer border of the continental margin, or to a distance of 200 miles counted from the base lines from which the borders of the territorial sea are measured, when the outer border of the continental margin does not reach the same distance."
However, this position conflicts with the United Kingdom, who, taking the "bordering state" to be the Malvinas Islands, consider a large part of the waters around the islands to be their exclusion zone.
-- Originally appeared in the Buenoes Aires Herald
The Malvinas AKA The Falkland Islands inhabitants face food shortage
Egg shortage came as the first sign of difficulties faced by the inhabitants of the Falklands AKA the Malvinas islands after South American countries unanimously decided to help Argentina move ahead with its peaceful efforts to resolve the issue of sovereignty over the archipelago as Britain compounds the situation by ruling out the possibility of negotiations.
On Saturday 11 February, the state-run BBC reported that the inhabitants of the islands are facing shortage of eggs and fresh vegetables, blaming the South American countries for the shortage and saying that they are “working hard to cut the islands off.”
Nevertheless, the state-funded BBC made no mention of the fact that the South American countries’ support for Buenos Aires over the issue came after Britain “militarized” the South Atlantic by sending a nuclear-armed destroyer to the area.
In response to Britain’s intimidating acts, Mercosur members, including Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, decided to turn vessels carrying the Falklands’ flag away from their ports.
Furthermore, the Chilean government that had announced plans in early January to join the South American countries in denying entry to its ports to Falklands-flagged vessels expressed its solidarity with Mercosur members.
The Chilean government also operated the only air link between the islands and the South American countries. There is one flight a week from Punto Arenas in southern Chile to the islands.
However, in response to Britain “militarizing” the area, Argentina raised the possibility of closing the only air route to the islands which passes through Argentina’s airspace.
In line with Argentina’s peaceful efforts to resolve the issue through diplomacy and negotiations, Argentinean Foreign Minister Hector Timerman submitted an official complaint to the United Nations Security Council against Britain’s militarizing the islands.
Nevertheless, Britain’s UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant said the militarization issue was “rubbish” claims made by Buenos Aires while he refused to make any comments on whether Britain has sent a nuclear-armed destroyer to the South Atlantic.
Grant also insisted that Britain would not take part in any negotiations over the sovereignty of the islands as it would only take the interests of the inhabitants into consideration.
However, Britain’s determination to dodge negotiations, despite UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s call for negotiation, and the shortage faced by the islands’ inhabitants, shows that the country is not concerned about the inhabitants’ wellbeing as it claims to be.
-- Originally published on PressTV