Argentina Orders Seizure of Falklands Oil Rigs

Published at 09:08AM - 29/06/15

The Argentinian government has ordered the seizure of all assets owned by oil and gas companies operating within Falklands waters.

The order, that came from Argentinean federal judge Lilian Herraez, claimed the companies didn’t have the necessary permits from Buenos Aires.

In an official release, the court stated the order was issued for “illegal activities of exploration, search and eventual extraction of hydrocarbons in proximity to the Falkland Islands…… because the companies in question failed to obtain permits issued by the competent authority in Argentina.”

Companies currently operating within Falklands waters include, Falkland Oil and Gas, Premier Oil, Rockhopper Exploration, Edison International Spa and Noble Energy.  In total the value of the assets libel to be seized come in at around US$156 million.

Buenos Aires is thought to have a particular eye on stopping the current drilling operations of the semi-submersible drilling rig the ‘Eirik Raude’, owned by Greece based Ocean Rig.  The Eirik Raude made an commercially viable discovery back in April, on behalf of a joint venture between Falkland oil and gas,’ Rockhopper and Premier Oil.  The discovery was made at the Isobel Deep prospect in the North Falkland basin. 

Buenos Aires is unlikely to be able to enforce any asset seizures, or have any bearing on the exploration programs of any companies operating within what are internationally recognised borders of Falklands waters.  Currently drilling operations are continuing as normal, and the share prices of the publicly listed companies remain largely unchanged in early London trading.

The move comes in a long line of Argentinian rhetoric.  Back in April of this year, the Argentinian authorities through Buenos Aires minister for Las Malvinas, released a statement threatening to extradite US and British CEOs of companies involved in Falklands exploration. The statement was not acted on.

However, it is thought that the Argentinian government is looking to freeze assets of a small regional office belonging to US based Noble Energy that is registered in Argentina.