Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shipping For Falklands Under New Restrictions

Argentina Imposes New Controls
Shipping News Feature

ARGENTINA / FALKLANDS - In a new move to ratchet up pressure on British oil exploration works being conducted in the Falkland Islands the Argentine government has decreed that any ships bound for the Falklands, South Georgia or the South Sandwich Islands via Argentine waters must first apply for permission to transit from their authorities.

The announcement follows on from last week’s prevention of sailing of a Danish vessel, the Thor Leader, which had carried supplies to the Falklands before stopping to collect its next load at the port of Campana. The Argentines had previously stated that they intend to sanction companies engaged in the oil projects and this apparently extends to shipping companies moving freight supplies.

The Argentine government’s stance has gradually hardened since they delivered a letter of protest to the British at the beginning of February over the oil drilling program that is taking place on the Islands, which they dispute the ownership of.

This dispute saw both countries fight a war in 1982 after the Argentines invaded the contested islands in an attempt to claim them. This was subsequently defeated by a British task force.

A statement issued by the British Foreign Office has played down the restrictions, saying that:

“Argentina and the UK are important partners: We have a close and productive relationship on a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including the global economic situation (particularly in the G20), human rights, climate change, sustainable development and counter-proliferation. And we want, and have offered, to co-operate on South Atlantic issues. We will work to develop this relationship further.

“Regulations governing Argentine territorial waters are a matter for the Argentine authorities. This does not affect Falkland Islands territorial waters which are controlled by the Island authorities.”

However, the Argentines increasing truculence means that it would be wise for any shipping lines engaged in the South Atlantic trade to pay attention to this latest demand or else face the possibility of impediment to their services.