The government leapt at an opportunity presented by the Communist party to scrap the National Entity for the Fuel Market (ENMC) run by Paulo Carmona, the man whose pro-oil company leanings helped in the approval of the oil and gas concession contracts signed off by the former Environment Minster, Jorge Moreira da Silva.
The formal end to the ENMC was approved on 25th November following a proposal from the Communist Party made just a week before. Público contacted Paulo Carmona who said he regretted the approval of the proposal to wind up the ENMC.
The delight from anti-oil exploration activists and pressure groups across the Algarve was palpable.
Carmona did himself no favours in the region after reluctantly organising and chairing a firey public discussion in Faro in January 2016 at which it became evident that he was appearing for the oil companies - the fact the public consultation was arranged after the contracts has been signed did not seem to concern him, nor could he grasp why the audience was incensed at his pro-oil stance which threatened the Algarve's main industry: tourism.
The ENMC’s duties now will be split up and farmed out: the monitoring of the market for bottled gas will go to the Energy Services Regulatory Agency (ERSE), the inspection of the fuel market will go to a new body and the creation and management of oil reserves is transferred to the Directorate-General for Energy (DGE).
The ENMC was largely funded by renting storeage capacity to oil companies which by law have to maintain 30 days reserves in case of emergency. The old Oil Reserve Management Entity (EGREP) was wound up under the Passos Coelho government and its €360 million in borrowings used to buy the strategic reserve were transferred to the new ENMC.
To give this new body something to do, it was given the task of fuel market surveillance, the creation of reference prices for gasoline and diesel and the supervision of contracts for oil exploration - this last area lying far from its core competencies and always likely to be influenced by the oil lobby.
Carmona said this week that he was surprised that the body for which he worked appears not to exist anymore. Since which time he has tried to befuddle the government over the legality and destination of the €360 million loan, but one thing is clear, Carmona will never again be in charge of overseeing oil exploration contracts like those approved with Portfuel which the government now is having to reverse out of with difficulty.
The Secretary of State for Energy, Jorge Seguro Sanches, will need to sort out 'who does what' when dividing up Carmona’s functions but the relief felt is well worth the effort.
Carmona says that, "There are three solutions: keeping everything as is, sharing everything out or extinguishing everything." If the closure of the ENMC is “the Government's choice" then Carmona kindly has offered to “assist in the process.”
The ENMC has closed and it is unlikely Carmona's help will be needed.