The UK has criticised Argentina’s plan to seize offshore assets of six oil companies from Europe and the US operating around the Falklands Islands.
Argentina’s court on Saturday had ordered the seizure of assets of several offshore companies worth about of $156m.
Tierra del Fuego judge Lilian Herraez ordered seizure of bank accounts, vessels and offshore equipment of Premier Oil, Rockhopper Exploration, Falkland Oil and Gas, Noble Energy and Edison International Spa.
Out of these five companies, three of them are UK-based, one is US-based, and one is from Italy.
British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire was quoted by Reuters as saying: "This politically motivated decision to target company assets is a wholly unacceptable attempt to exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction, and has no legal justification whatsoever."
The court’s decision comes as the oil companies are drilling for oil in the Falkland Islands, which Argentina claims sovereignty of and calls them the Malvinas.
Reuters reported Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman telling the local press that the country intended to pursue the case as part of its claim to sovereignty of the islands.
Despite Buenos Aires’ opposition, the companies, which are not based in Argentina, started drilling for oil in the territorial waters around the Falklands in 2010.
In ther 1982, Britain and Argentina fought a war over the Falklands Islands dispute.
Prior to British forces regaining control of the South Atlantic archipelago, Argentina occupied it for 74 days.
Argentina accuses Britain of collonisation saying the islands lie some 700km off its coast, whereas Britain says it has held the Falklands for 180 years under the will of its people, reported BBC.
Image: The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located 300 miles off the coast of Argentina. Photo: courtesy of Eric Gaba.