Monday, 20 February 2017
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moreiadasilvaThe current oil contracts in Portugal are part of an attempt to deceive an entire country with the promise of untold riches, cheap petrol, thousands of jobs and a safe clean environment to pass on to our grandchildren - none of which will happen.

Now that the national fuels authority (ENCM) finally has explained to MPs that the concession contracts it is overseeing are for exploration through to production, not ‘exploration only’ as the Prime Minister would have us believe, the lid is being prised off an oil barrel of deceit, corruption and lies – the normal mix when big money is at stake.

Paulo Carmona, the president of the fuels authority admitted that when the contracts were been signed, there was no room made for future political (or democratic) interference.

This admission means that the former Minister of the Environment Jorge Moreira da Silva, (pictured) along with former Economy Ministers Álvaro Santos Pereira and Manuel ‘Panama Papers’ Pinho, has signed away 33,000 km2 of Portugal's ocean territory and 4,826 kms2 of the country's land to Repsol, Galp, Partex (Gulbenkian), ENI, Kosmos, Australis and Portfuel.

These companies are not looking for oil and gas deposits ‘just so the government can know what is there’ - a well rehearsed myth voiced by the Prime Minister soon after taking office, egged on by the fuels authority whose president Paulo Camona was well aware of the contract details.

The companies know that there will be no problem, having drilled for and found oil or gas, in getting the additional authorisations to continue, whatever the environmental threats as there is no political interference allowed and after all, they each will have invested tens of millions and will hold the government to the conrtacts with superficial environmental impact assessments and photocopied safety and emergency procedures. 

Portuguese national newspaper Expresso has highlighted this government approved oil scam and notes the four big lies as being ‘loads of jobs, the country will be rich, fuel will be cheaper and that there will be no impact on the environment.’ This robust stance has been picked up and reproduced on the Left Bloc's website www.esquerda.net

The national daily writes that the creation of jobs in any Portuguese oil industry will be negligible: some foreign technicians for skilled labour, a few unskilled workers and some construction workers to build basic infrastructure.

The destruction of thousands of jobs in tourism and conservation is guaranteed and the rumour of oil exploration already has had an impact on reducing tourism and employment in the Algarve, according to the newspaper.

This ‘enrichment of the country’ nonsense is spouted by those who have not bothered to read the concession contracts which were released only after they had been signed so as to avoid any public scrutiny or interference.

The oil block rents “are comic: €600,000 per month, less than the salary of Mexia, (EDP boss) for an area equivalent to more than a third of the country for more than 50 years."

Royalties, once the oil begins to flow, are payable only ‘after all costs have been recovered’ which for multi-nationals may be as long as a piece of string, and then a royalty rate per barrel of between 0.2% and 9% offshore, and between 3% and 8% on land none of which compares favourably with other sovereign royalty deals.

The devaluation of land and property in the land concession areas will be significant and the economic damage to the regions will be catastrophic.

As for the price of fuel dropping, how does that work? Any oil produced belongs 100% to the companies that have the concessions which will not be inclined to flood the Portuguese market with cheap fuel, why would they?

Expresso concludes by suggesting that the ‘safe’ extraction of fossil fuels is irrational. Fossil fuels are responsible for climate change and global warming which is occurring at an unparalleled rate and threatening human civilisation.

"Locally, fracking destroys soil and water with harsh chemicals, and leaves irreversibly damage.

"At sea, oil production involves daily leakage, not just big spills, and these produce a permanent impact on marine biodiversity and marine activities as well as threatening to pollute the Algarve and Alentejo coastlines whose populations are dependent on tourism."

The oil fraud in Portugal aims to deceive an entire country. In fact the business can only impoverish the nation and trash the territory on behalf of mirage of wealth.

The Algarve's spirited defence has been coordinated by ASMAA with the support of citizens' groups from Aljezur, Vila do Bispo, Faro and Tavira - all with the approval and cooperation of mayors group AMAL. This led to a successful public petition delivered to parliament last week for what may prove to be an awkward debate in parliament.

Whether MPs will vote with their consciences or with career progression in mind remains to be seen but one thing is for certain, the activists have huge public support with over 27,000 people signing an anti-oil leaflet and over 4,000 sending a strong message by signing the public petition.

The result is that this unseemly and covert business has been dragged from the shadows of the old boys' network into the blazing light of publicity.

Portugal's various governments may have done business like this in the past, but the past is the past, the public now are actively engaged with people demanding public discussion and consultation where before they simply were told what to accept and failed to react.

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Based on the article by João Camargo published in Expresso on June 18, 2016