Malvinas Islands government launches offshore oil drilling public consultation

Access from Argentina to the website of the company in charge of the potential drill has been blocked

Malvinas Islands. Credit: Wikipedia

The Malvinas Islands government has launched a public consultation asking islanders to weigh in on the environmental impact of an offshore oil exploration and drilling project. Israeli company Navitas Petroleum would be in charge of the drill. 

This would be the first time Malvinas conducts an oil drilling project in its surrounding waters, in spite of Argentina’s ongoing sovereignty claims over the islands and the maritime territory. The consultation period began on July 2 and will end on August 13.

Navitas Petroleum owns most of the rights to the Sea Lion Field Northern Development Area. The company recently presented the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the islanders will be voting on.

According to a Facebook post by the islands’ government, the project’s initial goal consists of drilling 23 wells 220 kilometers north of Malvinas. The target is to extract over 300 million barrels over a 30-year period through the use of a Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel. 

The EIS was posted on the Navitas Petroleum website but the Herald was unable to access it due to the fact that it appears to be blocked for Argentina. “This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks. The action you just performed triggered the security solution,” the landing page says. People in the United States consulted by the Herald were able to see the website without any issue.

The Malvinas government’s Facebook page is also blocked. A Facebook message that appears when trying to see the profile from Buenos Aires says that the reason behind the content being unavailable may be because “the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it’s been deleted.” The page is active and visible to users in the U.S.

The Argentine Foreign Ministry has not made any public comments on the consultation or the project yet. Ministry spokespeople have not yet responded to the Herald’s request for comment.

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The company behind the exploration

In April 2022, the Argentine government, led at the time by former President Alberto Fernández, banned Navitas Petroleum from carrying out oil exploration in Argentine territory due to its activities surrounding the Malvinas Islands. Argentina’s sovereignty claim is based on the fact that the islands and their maritime territory are part of the country’s continental platform and therefore a rightful part of its territory.

At the time, Argentina declared Navitas’ activities to be “illegal” because “they do not have authorization from competent Argentine authorities.” Fernández’s government ratified its position in September 2023. The complaint was not only against the company and the U.K. government, but also against Israel.

The 2022 complaint adds that the U.K.’s “unilateral natural resources exploration and exploitation activities” go against a United Nations resolution that orders both countries to abstain from making unilateral decisions over the territory while the dispute is ongoing.

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Editorial disclaimer
Although the UK refers to the Malvinas territory as the “Falklands Islands,” Argentina strongly contests this name. The Buenos Aires Herald refers to the islands as the Malvinas Islands.


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