LatinNews Daily - 14 February 2022

In brief: Argentine gov’t to appeal ruling blocking offshore oil exploration project

* Argentina’s federal government led by President Alberto Fernández has said that it will appeal an 11 February court ruling which suspends offshore gas and oil exploration in areas of the Atlantic. The ruling follows a decree issued at the end of last year by the Fernández government giving the go-ahead to exploration work – in particular three blocks operated by Norway-headquartered oil firm Equinor, in some of which state oil company Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF) and Anglo-Dutch multinational Royal Dutch Shell have minority stakes. The blocks were auctioned in 2019 during the centre-right administration of former president Mauricio Macri (2015-2019). The decree issued at the end of last year prompted protests by environmental activists who warned of the environmental impact of seismic surveys and offshore drilling. The federal judge who issued the ruling, Santiago Martín, cited among various reasons for his decision, “defective fulfilment of standards regarding information and participation”, as required by existing legislation and the Escazú Agreement. The latter, also known as the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters, is the first regional environmental human rights treaty in Latin America and the Caribbean and was signed in Costa Rica in March 2018 and ratified by Argentina in January 2021.

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