Friday, February 12, 2010

Argentines Seize Alleged Falklands Shipping

Oil Exploration Supplies Embargoed
Shipping News Feature

ARGENTINA / FALKLANDS ISLANDS – Argentine authorities have prevented a vessel from leaving the port of Campana on the grounds that they believe the cargo of steel pipes it is carrying is destined for oil exploitation work in the contested Falkland Islands.

The Thor Leader, which is owned by Denmark’s Thor Shipping, has been detained as Argentina makes good on its threats to sanction companies that it believes are assisting in the British government’s plans to exploit oil reserves in the waters around the Falklands, potentially amongst the richest in the world.

The ship was apparently used to deliver supplies to the island's capital Port Stanley that are intended for use in the exploration works.

Speaking of the detention of the Thor Leader the Argentine Foreign Ministry said that: “There's evidence that the vessel was used to ship supplies related to oil-industry activities being illegitimately promoted by the United Kingdom in the Falklands.”

However, the makers of the vessels cargo, Argentina's Techint Group, have stated that the pipes are destined for customers in the Mediterranean and deny ever supplying pipes to the Falklands.

The bad blood between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands goes back several centuries and saw the two countries fight a war over the territory in 1982, with Argentina being defeated.

Since then the dispute has remained low-key until the UK granted oil drilling rights for the area to several UK companies, which has infuriated the Argentines.

The announcement that an exploration rig is to be placed next week seems the most likely cause of the action against the Thor Leader.

(pic: Thor Shipping)