Falkland Islands explores oil
With The Falkland Islands set to get its first oil in 2017, and on course to becoming an oil exporting nation, officials here are paying close attention to the country’s immigration policy.
Recognizing that while this discovery back in May 2010 will givem even more financial security, Dr Barry Elsby, Member of the Legislative Assembly, says this new development also carries some ‘downsides’ including the likelihood of massive immigration.
Elsby, who has responsibility for mineral resources, the environment and historical buildings as well as government owned housing, told Caribbean journalists on a one week tour to The Falkland Islands, that they are currently looking at the socio-economic effects of the oil find by Rockhopper Exploration and how they are going to handle it.
“We have to look at how we are going to maintain the good of The Falklands. There is a tremendous supportive community and what no-one in the islands wants is to lose that sense of The Falklands by swamping us with mass immigration. It has to be controlled such that the immigration that happens is what we want to happen so that we can develop the community in the way we want to develop the community,” he said, while speaking to the Press on Tuesday morning.
He said the infrastructure for this first oil find will be based offshore.
Elsby underscored the economic benefits of this to The Falklands noting it has cost them three billion pounds to develop the one oil field which is believed will last for about 30 years.
“We will take money from that at a rate of nine per cent for each barrel of oil and then 26 per cent corporation tax. That will bring in hundreds and hundreds of millions of pounds in a year to The Falklands Islands” he said.
How they will handle that money is something he said they are still discussing, pointing out, however, that the infrastructure in the country and the road network must be improved.
“We need to build a new port. The port we have at the moment is perfectly adequate for the exploration stage but it is being pushed to the limit,” he said, noting there are plans to build a new port at a location to be decided.
“What we do with all the money after that is what is up for grabs. The oil money belongs to The Falkland Islands. What we do with the money is certainly up to us,” he explained.
Elsby noted there is also an oil development group who will make sure things are in place, namely, the legislation required for the oil development stage using world standards, the immigration policy as well as the port structure.
He said the public will also be involved in this process. ” We need the public involved as to where they want the Falklands Islands to go in is 20, 30, 40 years time.”