Britain and the Falkland Islands have ignored Argentinian efforts to stop oil and gas exploration in British-controlled waters in the south Atlantic, it has been revealed.

The British Foreign Office and Falkland authorities said drilling for hydrocarbon deposits would go ahead without disruption despite an Argentinian effort to control traffic between its ports and the islands.

The rebuff came as critics in Buenos Aires accused Argentina’s government of playing the nationalist card to distract from mounting domestic woes, writes The Guardian.

Earlier this week President Cristina Kirchner issued a decree obliging all vessels using Argentinian ports to seek a permit if they enter or leave British-controlled waters.

The Ocean Guardian rig is expected to arrive this week to start drilling 100 miles offshore. Geological surveys suggest up to 60 billion barrels may lie beneath the seabed.

Argentinians consider sovereignty over the islands, which Britain occupied in 1833, a matter of national pride. The prospect of missing an oil bonanza has salted wounds from the 1982 conflict, which cost 649 Argentinian and 258 British lives, writes The Guardian.