Monday, 21 October 2013

The News for October 2013

It's been too long since I last gave an update on the news in the Falklands. Here's a smattering of news from October 2013.



Representatives of the Falklands this morning talked to Prime Minister David Cameron at the Conservative Party Conference.

Jan Cheek and Ian Hansen along with FIG London Representative Sukey Cameron attended this year’s Conference which took place in Manchester.

Ian Hansen said that the Prime Minister reiterated his support for the Falkland Islands.


The Conservative Party will stand by the people of Gibraltar “no matter what” according to the Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Mr Hague was addressing the Gibraltar reception at the Conservative Conference in Manchester.

Mr Hague revealed that he expects to start ‘ad hoc’ talks “soon as a way of enabling all relevant parties to explore differences”. But, the Foreign Secretary stressed, that this does not weaken UK’s commitment to a Trilateral Forum of Dialogue between the UK, Gibraltar and Spain.

The Foreign Secretary said that the British Government will continue to respect the wishes of the people of Gibraltar and will never agree to any transfer of sovereignty – or even start a process of negotiation of sovereignty without their consent. He emphasised that the British Government will take whatever action is necessary to safeguard Gibraltar, its people and its economy.


The Argentine ambassador in London Alicia Castro used a speech at a recent meeting of the Anglo-Argentine society to re-iterate her Government’s desire for talks over the Falkland Islands.

She said there was a “very deep friendship and understanding links” that exists between Britain and Argentina. She re-stated her belief that there should be dialogue over the Falklands.

The Argentine “Gaucho Rivero” bill which bans the access of British flagged cruise vessels which had previously called into the Falkland Islands will remain fully in force for Ushuaia, according to Marcelo Echazú, head of the Tierra del Fuego Tourism Institute.

He said that the law is in full force and that the authorities in Ushuaia will not allow ships which have visited the Falklands to call into their port.

Difficulties were experienced last season by several vessels which tried to call into Ushuaia.

Peter Carrington, the UK’s former foreign secretary, says Margaret Thatcher blocked efforts to reach a settlement on the Falkland Islands using a leaseback deal with Argentina.

Margaret Thatcher’s determination to stand up to the military junta in Argentina over the Falkland Islands is well documented, but new light has been shed on the battles that she fought with her own Cabinet on the issue.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Peter Carrington, who resigned as foreign secretary after the invasion in 1982, has disclosed that Baroness Thatcher blocked efforts by him and Nicholas Ridley, then his junior minister, to reach a settlement on the Falklands using a Hong Kong-style leaseback deal with Argentina.

Three weeks after she became prime minister in 1979 she invited Lord Carrington to a lunch at Chequers. Carrington mentioned that one of the problems he faced was what to do about the Falklands, suggesting a leaseback deal.

Lady Thatcher “erupted in anger”, and spent the next 10 minutes denouncing the very idea of exploring a Hong Kong solution Carrington tells Jonathan Aitken, the former cabinet minister, in his book, Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality, which will be published later this month.




It has been announced this month that four of the key companies exploring for oil in Falklands waters are to team up.

The first part of the deal will see the recommended takeover of Desire Petroleum for £61million by Falkland Oil & Gas.

The deal will create a substantially larger oil explorer, with key assets in the South Falkland basin and the North Falkland basin. The combination is subject to Falkland Oil and Gas and Desire Petroleum shareholder votes as well as approval from the Falkland Islands Government.

At the same time, Premier Oil and Rockhopper Exploration, the joint developers of the Sea Lion field have agreed to team up with the to-be-merged group.

Together they will drill two wells, one each on the Isobel/Elaine and the Jayne East prospects.

Premier and Rockhopper will pay for the drilling in return for a joint interest of 52.5% in Isobel/Elaine and 35% of Jayne East. The Desire/Falkland Oil and Gas entity will retain 40% of each project.

Desire Petroleum Chairman Stephen Phipps says that the company is entering an extremely exciting period in the Falklands with shareholders in the combined group now having fully funded, material exposure to five wells across three basins, testing three different play types.

Falkland Oil and Gas chief executive, and nominated chief executive of the enlarged group, Tim Bushell says that this combination is a compelling opportunity to consolidate the portfolios of Falkland Oil and Gas and Desire, diversifying the risk profile for both companies' shareholders and enabling the combined group to move forward with an active, long-term programme for growth in the Falkland Islands.

Speaking about the Heads of Agreement with Rockhopper Exploration and Premier Oil, Rockhopper Chief Executive Sam Moody says that they are delighted to have agreed this farm-in, which allows Rockhopper access to a much larger working interest in what they regard as highly prospective acreage. Situated in the North Falkland Basin, it includes the Isobel/Elaine and Jayne East prospects and is adjacent to the Sea Lion development.


Falkland Oil and Gas’s decision to takeover Desire Petroleum in a £61million deal has been welcomed by investors and oil analysts.

Analysts Oriel Securities said it is a good deal because it has broadened the portfolio around the Falklands while preserving cash and that the deal creates access to five exploration wells and will put £170m in cash on the balance sheet.

Analysts at Jefferies, the broker advising Falkland Oil and Gas, said the deal enables the execution of an enhanced drilling programme.

Shares in Desire Petroleum initially rose by over 30% yesterday. Falkland Oil and Gas slipped 0.75% and Rockhopper increased by 2.25%.


 Noble Energy Falklands Ltd presented their plans for their upcoming exploration campaign and temporary dock facility at a very well attended public meeting held earlier this month.

Michael Radabaugh, who is Noble’s Business Unit Manager for International Frontier Ventures, told the audience that the company’s aim is always to leave a country better than what they found it.

Mr Radabaugh said that the 3D seismic data gathered by Noble Energy this year had cost around £50million with 5500 square kilometres covered. The initial analysis of the data was said to be looking positive. Another 3D survey is due to start next month. The largest seismic vessel in the world, the PGS Titan, will be arriving in the Islands at the end of the month for the project which is expected will last for four months.

Regarding the temporary dock facility to be constructed in Stanley Harbour, the company undertook a worldwide search for a suitable barge and found one on the west coast of Mexico. The company are hoping to have construction for the temporary dock begin in February next year. A planning application for the dock is currently being prepared.

The company have also been engaged in discussions recently in order to contract a drill rig for their exploration campaign. Mr Radabaugh said that this is challenging due to there only being thirteen rigs in the world suitable for drilling in the Falklands but they are hoping to secure one by the end of the year. They are aiming to begin drilling in early 2015.

Taking questions from the public, the Noble representatives were asked, regarding the temporary dock, what would happen if they did not receive planning permission from the Falkland Islands Government. The Noble representatives responded by saying that they were confident that they would be able to meet all of the requirements that the Government would have for the project and would do their best to ensure that any potential problems were addressed fully.

Michael Radabaugh concluded the meeting by saying that that the company hope to be in the Islands for a long time and also hoped that the Falklands and Noble are successful together.


In a new corporate update available from its website, Rockhopper Exploration says it is in a good position going forward.

In the presentation, Rockhopper say that the Sea Lion project has made good progress since Premier Oil assumed operatorship. Premier are said to be satisfied that the floating production, storage and off-take vessel concept meets its economic requirements.

Rockhopper and Premier continue to favour a phased drilling programme starting in the north of the field; where an estimated 284 million barrels of Sea Lion’s resources are located.

Premier has confirmed that a floating production, storage and off-take vessel solution is viable although it is possible that a tension leg platform might be used. Initial cost estimates for a tension leg platform are being calculated and a final decision on the host facility is anticipated by the end of the year.

Rockhopper are also looking to carry out exploration drilling in 2015. Rockhopper has identified four wells that it wishes to drill in the next campaign. It is still expected that the first drilling on Sea Lion will take place in 2018.

Local News


The candidates for the General Election to be held on the 7th November were announced last week. There are five candidates for Camp and eleven for Stanley.

Standing for Camp are Roger Edwards, Melanie Gilding, Sharon Halford, Ian Hansen and Phyl Rendell.

Standing for Stanley are Teslyn Barkman, Norman Besley Clark, John Birmingham, Candy Blackley, Lynda Buckland, Jan Cheek, Barry Elsby, Faith Felton, Michael Poole, Gavin Short and Mike Summers.

Falkland radio’s election coverage will begin next week.


Further to purchasing Darwin House in October 2012, Stanley Services Limited say that they are pleased to announce that refurbishment works have commenced.

Some of the changes include increasing the number of ensuite bathrooms from two to all of the six guest bedrooms, along with new soft furnishings. The lounge and conservatory will benefit from new furniture and soft furnishings. The lodge will also have new internal lighting and an upgrade to the fire alarm for the safety of the guests.

The work is being carried out by local contractors; Tony Courtney Plumbing, No. 1 Electrical (Falklands) Ltd, Carpentry by Smith’s Building Service, painting and decorating by Any Job and flooring by Décor Services Ltd.

Stanley Services Limited Managing Director, Tom Swales says that the purchase of Darwin Lodge and the subsequent investment confirms their confidence in the future of the tourism sector in the Islands.

Mr Swales says that their long term aim is to add more rooms to the existing Lodge and look for other areas in Camp to develop and in which to invest.

Not only will SSL be investing in the accommodation element, Darwin will also offer more leisure activities to encourage people to visit and enhance their stay.

Mr Swales says that the improvements in Darwin Lodge are only part of a continued long term investment plan by Stanley Services Ltd.


At a meeting of the Planning and Building Committee held yesterday, approval was given to an outline planning application from FIG for a new water supply system from the Murrell River.

Plans for the new water supply were recently highlighted to the public. The new development is required so that the water supply for Stanley can keep up with increased demand.

The application was for outline planning for construction of a dam and pump station at the Murrell River and construction of two holding tanks in the area of Two Sisters Gate.


Falkland Islands bank notes, some over 100 years old, were recently sold for more than £46,000.

The Falkland bank notes were on offer at Spinks London Auction House at the start of this month. Sold in six lots, it was the two eldest notes that fetched the most money.

The first lot was a five shilling bill, dated 12 January 1901. The note is green on tan and bears three manuscript signatures of Charles Hill, M.Muirfield and J.J.Felton. The note is annotated on the reverse, "from J.J.Felton to Mansell Esq Gallegos". This bank note sold for £26,000.
The next bank note was a £1 bill dated 16 October 1899. This note is blue on tan and is also signed by Charles Hill, M.Muirfield and J.J.Felton. This also has a notation on the reverse, "from J.J.Felton to Mansell Esq Manager of National Bank of Argentina Port Gallegos". This is the first Government note ever issued in the Falkland Islands and fetched £19,000.

 The remaining lots included various other notes of Falklands Government Issue, from a 50pence bank note to a £50 note, most uncirculated. These lots fetched £1280, making a total of £46,280.


The next series of the popular BBC programme ‘Island Parish’ is to be filmed in the Falkland Islands during this summer.

Reverend Richard Hines says that the team will be keen to learn more about the Falklands community.


Local Events


The Queen's Baton Relay - heralding the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow - has been launched at Buckingham Palace.

The baton contains the Queen's hand-written message to the Commonwealth and will visit all 70 competing nations and territories over the next 288 days.

The baton's journey will end at the opening ceremony on 23 July 2014, when the Queen will read the message inside.

The Baton will reach the Falklands on the 27th February next year.

Chairman of the Falkland Islands Overseas Games Association Mike Summers says it will be a great occasion for the Falklands.

School News


 The new Director of Education Annie Tempest reported on activities within the Education Department at a meeting of the Education Board held this month.

On staffing matters for the Community School, it was reported that advertising is taking place in the UK for an English teaching post as well as a Complex Needs Teacher for a January 2014 start date. A staffing vacancy for an Examination/Vocational Post did not attract any applicants. The Director of Education said that the salary needs to be revisited as well as the experience required as the grading did not reflect the reality of the position, or the responsibility.

 It was reported at the meeting that the Accommodation Working Group will meet later this month to discuss the next stage of the work to develop new accommodation for the Education Department.

 Ms Tempest also stated that there are 28 new children at the Infant and Junior school this year bringing the roll up to 280. Three year groups are completely full, resulting in implications for recruitment of new staff.

Academic achievements at the Infant and Junior School were also discussed at the meeting. The Director of Education said that children at the school had exceeded their expected progress in the areas of maths and reading which was said to be very positive.



 Further honours have been awarded to a Falklands competitor for their involvement in the Bermuda Island Games.

 At the Island Games, competitors from islands with a population of less than ten thousand compete for Gold, Silver and Bronze 'Small Island Certificates'.

The Falklands team won several gold and silver certificates in Bermuda however an oversight was made regarding the efforts of Falklands runner Bill Chater.

The Falkland Islands Overseas Games Association have been advised by the International Island Games Association that Bill has been awarded a Gold certificate for the 1500 metres and a Silver certificate for the 5000 metres.

 Along with the Gold he received as a member of the football team he has become the Falklands most certificated athlete of the 2013 Games.


And finally, the Falklands Archery Association had much to celebrate at the end of its second year of existence when its members, guests, friends and family gathered together at the Malvina House Hotel recently. During the last year coaches had visited courtesy of the Shackleton Fund; members competed at the Guernsey Games, bringing medals home, and the Association became members of World Archery – the governing body of the sport.

A presentation was made of a donation of £500 from the Archery Association to the Falkland Islands Overseas Games Association as a token of thanks for FIOGA’s assistance with competing at the Guernsey Games.

The Association also took the opportunity to recognise the achievements of some of their best archers from the last six months and to award the Argos Ltd Challenge Trophy to the junior club member for the month of September.

The Association also thanked a number of organisations and individuals who have generously supported them over the last year.

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