An Argentine judge has ordered the seizure of $156m and other assets from British and US oil companies looking for crude oil in waters off the disputed Falkland Islands.

Judge Lilian Herraez, based in the Tierra del Fuego region of southern Argentina, on Saturday ordered the firms to stop their exploration activities.

UK-Argentina standoff over disputed Falklands continues

Argentina claims sovereignty over the UK-controlled islands in the South Atlantic and the two countries went to war over them in 1982.

The war lasted 74 days and left nearly 1,000 people dead.

It ended when a British expeditionary force sent by the government in London expelled the Argentine troops.

Animosity between the UK and Argentina over the islands has escalated sharply in recent years with the discovery of significant oil deposits offshore.

Judge Herraez said the companies are operating in Argentine territorial waters, but it is not clear how Argentina will enforce the order seeking to seize the money and oil exploration equipment such as ships and a floating dyke.

The companies named in the suit are Rockhopper Exploration, Premier Oil, Falkland Oil and Gas Limited, all British, and the US firms Noble Energy and Edison International.

Source: AFP