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An aged North Sea oil rig known as the Ocean Guardian is making a snail's-paced journey from northern Scotland to the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, where its pending arrival promises to put the isolated archipelago the site nearly three decades ago of a brief but bloody war between Great Britain and Argentina very much back in the public eye. Known in South America as Islas Malvinas and in Britain as the Falklands, the territory is a collection of rocky islands some 450 km off the coast of Argentina, which, despite losing the 1982 war, continues to claim the tiny territory as its own. After the conflict, life returned to quiet normalcy for the islands' roughly 3,000 inhabitants, who share the land with more than a half-million sheep and an estimated 750,000 penguins. Growing fishing and tourism industries have bucked up the economy in recent years, allowing the islanders to enjoy their unassuming self-sufficiency in relative peace with the outside world. If a handful of optimistic oil companies are to be believed, all that could soon change. Geologists have long speculated that the islands are sitting on a treasure far more valuable even than its lucrative squid fisheries, which have already helped raise the per capita GDP to US$35,000, one of the highest in the world. Around the islands, according to the Edinburgh-based British Geological Survey, is literally a sea of oil, possibly as much as 60 billion barrels. Even half that amount would make it one of the world's most valuable untapped reserves. Pot of gold or just a pipe dream? With the help of the Ocean Guardian, four small petroleum firms are now ready to put that speculation to the test.