Declassified documents show the UK’s historic interest in Falkland oil

    Falkland petrolio

    Falkland Oil

    The UK government aims to exploit the oil reserves around the Falkland Islands before and after the 1982 conflict with Argentina. In an unpublished letter, the former advisor Norman Lamont He argued that the oil revenues in the Falkland Islands should have gone to the British coffers and not to the coffers of the Falkland Islands. “I have no doubt that in the event of a major oil discovery the tax revenue should go to the UK treasury. It seems fair to me, given the great financial and other sacrifices made by the UK (…) to secure the freedom of the Falkland Islands”, Lamont wrote to then-Secretary of State, Douglas Hurd, on October 21, 1991.” Lamont added in the letter: “We do not wish to take credit for the accusation that our operation in the Falkland Islands was motivated by the belief that there was oil in the waters of the Falkland Islands, which is wholly untrue.” A proposal found such positive response to Prime Minister John Major that the government then decided to commission local residents to conduct seismic surveys to determine the size of the oil fields and then determine how the revenues would be distributed.

    On November 22, 1991, the United Kingdom declared a right to a maximum of 200 nautical miles from the seabed and subsoil around the islands. The Falkland Islands government began bidding for oil exploration licenses in 1996, but since then all revenue has gone to the Falkland Government, not the UK. Official documents for the years after 1991 have yet to be declassified, but what appears to be the case is that the British government concluded that the value of oil revenues would not repay the “political embarrassment” of such a claim. Other declassified documents show that the UK government has long been interested in oil around the Falkland Islands. In 1975, an Energy Department official wrote: “Our executive is very interested in the potential to exploit oil off the Falkland Islands.” This fact seems to confirm that London has for some time set its sights on the crude oil reserves around the islands off the coast of Argentina.

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