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Left Bloc questions PM on Aljezur oil drilling licence

catarinamartinsLeft Bloc leader, Catarina Martins, brought up the situation surrounding oil exploration in the Algarve and Alentejo offshore exploration areas during question time in parliament today, demanding to know why a drilling licence had been granted to Galp-ENI despite a 42,000 signature petition demanding this oil exploration process be stopped.

The Prime Minister said that the government had looked at the three southern concessions and had no reason to halt or interfere with the Galp-ENI exploration programme as the concession holder had done nothing wrong.

 This had not been the case in the Algarve where Portfuel and Repsol-Partex had not followed the correct proceedures. This had made is easier to cancel the Algarve licences but the Galp-ENI drilling licence was awarded as there had been no reason to halt it.

Martins warned of the danger if a first well is sunk in the Aljezur offshore exploration block, but the PM said there was no change to the concession and that the granting of the licence was only “contractual compliance.”

Catarina Martins devoted much of her questioning to environmental issues, the most serious one being the Aljezur licence, granted covertly and without a proper debate having taken place.

"A director general of maritime resources, just before leaving office, issued a license that allows sixty days of operations to drill a well off Aljezur,” said the bloquista, asking the PM whether the government had even reviewed the Aljezur concession.

In response, António Costa said that in relation to the three concessions, the government had assessed them separately because they each were different.

Catarina Martins insisted that the current situation "is a mistake" and that these exploratory wells can not be allowed because Portugal does not want the environmental disasters that it has witnessed in the rest of the world.

"This issue deserves that the Government looks very carefully at this case because we have no doubt that there is still a possibility to prevent the Aljezur offshore wells being sunk, this has to be our commitment," said Martins to the PM who assured her that he was well aware that the licence had been granted and that this does not mean he is disinterested, inattentive or not involved.

The prime minister did not explain why the Galp-ENI licence has been issued before a full parliamentary debate had been held, nor why the licence was signed against the expressed wishes of the 42,000 signatories, local mayors, tourism associations and environmental groups.


See alo: 'Anti-oil organisation shows its disgust at government duplicity'