Argentina Fumes over Construction of new British port in the Falklands
Submitted by J Brock (FINN)
Diplomatic disputes between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Falkland Islands are common, but the latest controversy involves a new “front line” – Antarctica.
Argentina and the United Kingdom are two of the seven nations that claim parts of the white continent, but they are the only two that claim exactly the same portion of territory.
The British Antarctic claim, made in 1908, completely encompasses (and exceeds) the territory that the South American country had claimed four years earlier.
In 1940, Chile joined the controversy, claiming part of the land claimed by both.
Now this Antarctic rivalry has deepened, thanks to a fact that at first glance does not seem to have much to do with it.
It involves the construction of a new deep-water port in the Falklands, following the deterioration of the current port (FIPASS).
And why the new Falklands port has become a new chapter in the Antarctic dispute.
It all started at the end of 2018, when the government of the Falkland Islands – known as the FIG or Falkland Islands Government – published a notice inviting companies to present their ideas for the construction of a new port.
In a report presented to the local Legislative Assembly, Dr the Hon Barry Elsby, head of the Business Development and Services portfolio, explained that the deterioration of the current port, built in 1984 and known as the Falklands Interim Port and Storage System was such “that it is no longer safe for ships to dock there.”
“The ad came out saying we want a port with this amount of berth space, this amount of cargo capacity on the edge, and then we allow stakeholders to develop their own ideas and sell them to us,” he said.
The current main port of the Falkland Islands, built in 1984, to be replaced in 2024.
In May 2019, the tender was opened for what Elsby described as “one of the largest capital projects in the history of the islands” and in February 2020 it was announced that the work had been awarded to the British-Dutch firm BAM Nutall Ltd.
“As is well known, the existing facility is rapidly approaching the end of its useful life. Today’s exciting news is the first step in designing a new facility that can handle both our current needs and our projected future demands.” Former FIG Chief Executive Barry Rowland said in making the announcement.
It was reported that the new port will be built near the current one, at Stanley Harbor.
During the contract signing in April 2020, BAM Nuttall Managing Director Martin Bellamy said that the new port will “support the local economy, including fishing, tourism and shipping, and facilitate the economic growth anticipated in the future”.
After a pause due to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, plans were resumed in August 2020 and in September BAM Nuttall presented the plan of the new port at a public hearing in the municipality.
The Island’s authorities reported that the port will be operational “by the beginning of 2024 at the latest,” and that its construction will be financed with loans for US $ 85 million.
So far the news of the new port in the Falklands had gone almost unnoticed outside the archipelago. However, a year later, in August 2021, this work became the center of a controversy in neighbouring Argentina.
First, the government of the southernmost province of the country, whose official name is Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and the South Atlantic Islands (which includes the Falklands), denounced BAM Nuttall for operating without its authorization in that region on the one who claim sovereignty.
Then, in the middle of the month, a national senator from Tierra del Fuego denounced before the Argentine Parliament that this work is intended to last.
Source: BBC News World, August 26, 2021