Argentina threatens to sue Falkland drillers

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The Independent Online

Argentina escalated the rhetoric over the disputed Falkland Islands yesterday, threatening to take legal action against any companies involved in oil exploration in the waters around the islands.

As the only explorer to have struck oil off the islands, Britain's Rockhopper appears to have the most to lose, as it seeks partners to invest $2bn (£1bn) to develop its key Sea Lion project. Borders & Southern and Falkland Oil & Gas also face legal action since both are set to drill exploration wells later this year.

Argentina's threat was made by the country's Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, who called the activities of any explorer working in the region "illegal" and "illegitimate".

Rockhopper, named after a penguin native to the Falklands, struck oil in 2010. It estimates that the Sea Lion discovery contains about 350 million recoverable barrels of oil and is hunting for a partner to inject the capital it needs to start production.

The Foreign Office last night said that oil exploration "is a legitimate commercial venture and the British Government supports the rights of the Falkland islanders to develop their hydrocarbons sector".