Oil, the Islands and the Falklands Lobby (1976–1979)
This chapter considers how British business interests affected the UK government’s stance on the Falklands dispute. It provides new archival evidence that British companies and the British government were very interested in the potential oil deposits around the Falkland Islands, contrary to accounts which suggest that Britain had no economic stake in the Islands. During the 1970s, both British companies and government officials believed that the only way to secure access to the oil would be through joint exploration with Argentina and therefore favoured sovereignty talks with the Argentine government. It was only in the changed political circumstances following Britain’s victory in the Falklands War that the UK was prepared to explore for oil unilaterally in the South Atlantic. This chapter also looks in detail at the Falkland Islands Committee, their support from Establishment figures and their informal social links with Foreign Office officials.