Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

'We always feel threatened by Argentina'

Tensions have resurfaced between the UK and Argentina over oil exploration at the Falkland Islands. Some of the islands' inhabitants give their views here on just what the discovery of oil would mean to their community.

RICHARD DAVIES, DOCTOR AND FORMER COUNCILLOR

Discovering extractable oil would certainly secure our future economically.

The fishery hasn't been as good as it was 10 or 20 years ago, and tourism, which is our second industry, has been hit by the credit crunch.

Stanley skyline  in the Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands contain a tight-knit community

Personally I'm concerned about the social upheaval oil might bring - but if we could manage it as well as the Shetland Islands, then that would be great.

We're a community of about 3,000 spread across islands about the size of Wales. It's very close knit.

But if oil is discovered, then more people would come and there'd be a need for a bigger infrastructure to cope.

And it could potentially mean huge wealth. Does that mean we start inputting labour from overseas to do the jobs that people here don't want to do?

I'm not desperately worried about the political situation. There's a lot of hype from Argentina over the Falklands, but there's a disappointment from our side over the fact that Argentina won't co-operate on anything.

They'll shout and make things a bit more difficult, but I don't think they would do anything in terms of military action. It will be more irritation and annoyance.

SHARON JAFFRAY, PENGUIN NEWS DEPUTY EDITOR

Discovering oil will be a great boost for the island's economy and would mean that a lot of things which need to be done, would get done.

But people are seriously worried about the environmental impact of oil drilling, especially if there was a spillage.

We're always going to feel threatened by Argentina and the control they have because of the air link to the island

There have been very mixed emotions about what the next few weeks will bring. People's opinions over whether or not they want oil to be found are very evenly split.

They have a sense of what will be will be, and it's very difficult to judge the mood of a population that doesn't wear its heart on its sleeve.

We're always going to feel threatened by Argentina and the control they have because of the air link to the island.

Hearing the latest news on the BBC has brought back a lot of memories for people, and some of my friends said hearing these latest news bulletins has made the hair stand up on the back of their neck.

But I don't think there's any undue worries. It's a far different situation than in 1982, we already have a military presence here.

PETER BIGGS, FALKLANDS ISLAND DEFENCE FORCE COMMANDING OFFICER

I'm a realist. Oil would stabilise our economic situation and would ensure that we could continue to be financially independent.

People here don't want to be a burden on the UK taxpayer any more than we can avoid.

The discovery of oil would generally be a good thing as long as it's managed well financially and environmentally.

We've already had a dress rehearsal as there was another oil exploration a few years ago and we have a picture of what it will mean in our minds.

There's a lot of chest thumping from across the water as usual, but I'm confident we have a strong deterrent

People are generally quite hopeful that there might be a positive outcome this time. We're cautiously optimistic.

We have had economic problems thrust upon us, for whatever reason the fishery situation has had a few bad years.

And our large neighbours have not been that helpful when it comes to tourism. There's a lot of chest thumping from across the water as usual, but I'm confident we have a strong deterrent.

JOHN FERGUSON, FALKLAND ISLAND MEAT COMPANY GENERAL MANAGER AND FALKLANDS CONFLICT VETERAN

Any kind of new industry has got to be a good thing, but correctly controlled. We have a volatile income from fishing and agriculture.

Businesswise it will be a major change and will have an impact on our labour. Socially it will have a huge impact, but you can't have progress without change.

We have to stand firm, we can't bow to pressure and we shouldn't make the same mistake as in 1982

This place needs to find economic stability but not at any cost - it has to be properly controlled.

The Falklands government took very good steps in controlling the fishing industry, and the same would need to be done with any oil extraction.

Any sabre rattling by Argentina has to be taken seriously - but we have to stand firm, we can't bow to pressure and we shouldn't make the same mistake as in 1982.

I was a young sailor aboard HMS Endurance then, and we didn't have enough strength to back us up. The British government at the time didn't take the Argentine threat seriously.

But now Britain and the Falklands must stand up for ourselves, and the British government now do take the threat seriously.



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