Falkland Sounds Upbeat Note as Exploration Hopes Grow

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Byline: JAMES ROSSITER

THE head of Falkland Oil and Gas was today gushing with confidence about prospects within the old 200-mile exclusion zone mapped out around the islands during Britain's 1982 war with Argentina.

No drilling is targeted before 2007 yet the chairman of the AIM-listed firm, John Armstrong, said today: "This is the most exciting project I've been involved in for some years and there is a real chance the Falkland Islands will become a new petroleum province."

His enthusiasm comes barely a day after City analysts called for executives at Britain's growing number of exploration companies to temper their upbeat statements following the 60% slump in Regal Petroleum's shares on Wednesday.

Regal founder Frank Timis is quitting as chief executive following the dramatic revelation this week that, after a series of drilling tests, it will not be able to extract commercial quantities of oil from its Greek Kallirachi-2 project.

But Falkland deputy chairman David Hudd insisted his firm's prospects for finding oil were on course as he confirmed other oil companies had approached it to help finance the exploration of its 329 blocks. …