BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - An Argentine judge ordered the seizure of assets of oil drilling companies operating in the disputed Falklands Islands on Saturday, as rhetoric heats up before October elections.
Lilian Herraez, a federal judge in Tierra del Fuego, ordered the seizure of $156 million, boats and other property, Argentina's state news agency Telam reported.
The companies named in the demand were Premier Oil Plc, Falkland Oil and Gas Ltd, Rockhopper Exploration Plc, Noble Energy Inc and Edison International Spa.
It was not clear what Argentina would do to enforce the ruling and, as companies generally avoid Argentine territory, it is likely to prove largely symbolic.
Argentina claims sovereignty over the South Atlantic islands which it calls the Malvinas, located about 700km (450 miles) off the coast of Tierra del Fuego and occupied by around 3,000 people who mostly say they wish them to remain a British overseas territory.
Britain and Argentina fought a short war in 1982, after the then Argentine military dictatorship briefly seized the islands, and tensions have escalated again in recent years with the discovery of oil deposits.
Argentina has promised to resolve the dispute through diplomacy, but politicians often ramp up rhetoric around election time.
The British foreign office was not immediately available to comment on Saturday.
(Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi, Writing by Rosalba O'Brien)