BUENOS AIRES, March 23 (UPI) — First results from the drilling for hydrocarbons in the Falklands waters were at the center of market speculation Tuesday as Argentina took its claim over the islands to the Organization for American States.
Findings from the first drilling operations to the target depth of about 11,480 feet under the sea were expected to be made known this week, officials said.
Desire Petroleum, which has headquarters in Malvern, England, is conducting the current investigation of the seabed, using the semi-submersible rig the Ocean Guardian it leased for the first round of drilling.
Desire participated in the first round of drilling in the north Falkland basin in 1998 when exploration was abandoned amid poor initial results and falling oil prices.
This time around. Desire is operating six licenses in the area, while other areas of the north Falklands basin are set to be explored by Rockhopper Exploration, Arcadia Petroleum Limited and smaller companies.
Desire said its findings showed that the basin has “a proven working hydrocarbon system with an excellent oil source rock. In addition, recent studies have indicated there is also a significant gas potential in the basin.”
Scientific reports, cited by Desire and other companies, the region could be holding recoverable oil in excess of 3.5 billion barrels and natural gas of more than 9 trillion cubic feet, making it potentially the largest oil field outside Saudi Arabia.
Ocean Guardian sailed into the basin area on Feb. 19 and began operations with the spudding of the first well Feb. 23, at the height of an Argentine diplomatic campaign to draw international attention to its claim.
The Argentine approach to the OAS was an expected escalation of its diplomatic campaign to advance Buenos Aires’ claim of the islands, which it calls the Malvinas, are Argentine and Britain has no right to drill for oil in the islands’ waters. Britain rejects the claim, asserting the Falklanders have exercised self-determination on the British overseas territory, which has been under U.K. rule since 1833.
Argentina invaded the islands in 1982, resulting in a 74-day war with Britain that led to the deaths of 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors, and airmen and three civilian Falklanders. Britain prevailed in the conflict but Argentina continued its sovereignty claim.
The renewed Buenos Aires campaign for sovereignty over the islands has led to criticism that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is using the dispute to deflect attention away from domestic economic and political problems.
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