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Oil companies knew that 42,000 signature 'anti-drilling' petition would be ignored by pro-oil government

8570On January 26th, environmental organisation ASMAA discovered that the Direção-Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Marítimos (DGRM) has signed a licence for the Galp-ENI consortium on January 11, 2017 to drill in the Alentejo Basin.

In August last year, 42,295 people signed a petition to oppose this drilling permit for a 1,000 metre well in the ocean off Aljezur. This was all part of the public consultation process, 4 people were in favour of this licence being granted.

The government then had 30 days within which to give an opinion.

150 days later, it was discovered, but not on the DGRM website, that the Government had authorised concession holders GALP-ENI to carry out drilling with only ten days notice anytime before 2019 for a hole between 2,500m and 3,000m deep. Also, it has exempted the concession holders from providing any liability insurance and from lodging any collateral payment. 

In May 2016, the concessionaire GALP-ENI, before the public consultation had opened to discuss the authorisation of the drilling, hired MedServ which set up in the Port of Sines to support the offshore drilling process.

MedServ publicly announce that it had won an ENI tender to provide logistical support for offshore drilling, before any drilling licence had been awarded. This announcement by MedServ was on May 26, 2016 when the public consultation only opened 4 days later, on May 30th.

The 2016 public consultation showed that public opposition was overwhelming (42,295 against 4 in favor). Added to this result from the public was opposition from all the councils in the Algarve which, via mayors' association AMAL, took out a court action to stop the drilling.

It was later learned that all parish councils belonging to the Natural Park of the Southwest Alentejo and the Costa Vicentina opposed the drilling.

The Directorate-General has never spoken about the consultation, so humiliating was the opposition to its plans.

Those who participated in the public consultation have never received a response.

There have been no answers to the questions raised in the consultation process.

There has been no report on the public consultation process.

Even today, there is nothing on the DG's website.

Another relevant issue was the expiry of the ENI-GALP concession agreement. Last year, 2016, was the ninth year since the signing of the contract in 2007 by then-minister, Manuel Pinho.

The concessionaire had to conduct a further survey which it has not done, thus breaching its contract - enough for the government to rescind the licence.

It was necessary to search the website of the Plano de Situação do Ordenamento do Espaço Marítimo Nacional to find the authorisation, signed on 11 January 2017, by the then Director-General Miguel Sequeira (who rather conveniently, left office 11 days later), which allows ENI and GALP to drill in the seabed between the Algarve and the Alentejo, up to 3,000 metres - far in excess of the original 1,000 metres. 

In addition, Miguel Sequeira has exempted these lucky oil companies from having to lodge a bond or, remarkably, to provide liability insurance – the very reason used to strip Portfuel of its two concession licences in the Algarve.

The saddening and unaviodable conclusion is that the public consultation process was a con.

The expressed opinions of tens of thousands of people, organisations, municipalities and public institutions simply have been ignored. There has been no response to the petition and a licence has been approved under circumstances that at the very least are dubious, at the worst, criminal.

The concession holders clearly knew that any opposition would be swept aside by a government intent on saying one thing about democracy and the environment, while bowing to 'big oil’ and callously disregarding public opinion.

By appointing MedServ before the consultation had even started, the concession holders knew the game was in the bag. MedServ has been in Sines since 2016, preparing support services, bringing in equipment and ensuring the heliport was extended.

Those in positions of power, whose ample salaries and benefits are paid from the public purse and that cynically have abused their status and failed to do their jobs with integrity, include the DGRM’s Miguel Sequeira: Paula Vitorino, Minister of the Sea: José Matos Fernandes, Environment Minister: Jorge Seguro Sanches: Secretary of State of Energy, and António Costa, Portugal’s Prime Minister whose responses in parliament on Friday to Catarina Martins of the left Bloc were uncharacteristically feeble, misleading and patronising.

The people listed above have offered no excuse for what they have done.

This is the old style of Portuguese politics, everyone hiding behind someone else when questions are asked. This no longer is acceptable in a supposedly modern Portugal.

Ignoring the overwhelming will of the people will rebound hard on the Socialist Party, especially in those coastal council areas affected by oil exploration and exposed to the unnecessary risk of pollution.

42,000 'against' and 4 'in favour' is as overwhelming a result as has ever been witnessed in a public consultation - yet this is the result that simply has been ignored, the questions raised remain unanswered and a drilling licence sneakily has been signed off by Miguel Sequeira, notice of which was carefully hidden on a little used government website in the hope nobody would notice.

 

 

OilDrillinBoat

 

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Comments  

0 #10 Ed 2017-01-31 10:08
Quoting Jack Reacher:
Quoting Terry P:
"I can't think of one online petition that has ever had any impact whatsoever. "

The Save Salgados campaign which gathered 32,000 online signatures four years ago. Finalgarve has yet to dig a single sod and the lagoon has been redeveloped to the benefit of bird life by Aguas de Algarve.


Technically citing Praia Grande's EIA memorandum a certain species of flower Linaria algarviana, protected under the IUCNs red list was largely responsible for stopping any form of development. Salgados is a remarkable habitat and let's hope it remains that way. The petition simply bought the issue to Facebook and the local press.

The petition brought the issue to the attention of the government and the Minisiter of the Environment too, not that Lemos changed his mind. I think that will all petitions they are part of wider campaigns.
-1 #9 Jack Reacher 2017-01-28 23:47
Quoting Terry P:
"I can't think of one online petition that has ever had any impact whatsoever. "

The Save Salgados campaign which gathered 32,000 online signatures four years ago. Finalgarve has yet to dig a single sod and the lagoon has been redeveloped to the benefit of bird life by Aguas de Algarve.


Technically citing Praia Grande's EIA memorandum a certain species of flower Linaria algarviana, protected under the IUCNs red list was largely responsible for stopping any form of development. Salgados is a remarkable habitat and let's hope it remains that way. The petition simply bought the issue to Facebook and the local press.
+2 #8 Terry P 2017-01-28 23:11
"I can't think of one online petition that has ever had any impact whatsoever. "

The Save Salgados campaign which gathered 32,000 online signatures four years ago. Finalgarve has yet to dig a single sod and the lagoon has been redeveloped to the benefit of bird life by Aguas de Algarve.
+1 #7 Marjolein Massis 2017-01-28 22:01
Jack Reacher, your comments have absolutely nothing to do with the oil discussion. How well you would fit somewhere in the Portugese Government!!
0 #6 Jack Reacher 2017-01-28 21:07
Quoting SUSAN SANCHEZ:
Jack Reacher there have been many events, there have also been letters. The petition was in a particular secure format so that it cannot be signed multiple times and thereby is in an officially recognised form for presentation. If you had been any kind of follower of this campaign or even a reader of newspapers, you would know of the many events all over the area ,so I would suggest you have no natural authority to make such an ill-informed undermining comment.


I wasn't being antagonistic, but simply implying that petitions in Portugal directed at Politicians have zero impact. I can't think of one online petition that has ever had any impact whatsoever. I am also aware of the grassroot protests that have taken place across the Algarve. Over in the US the Dakota Pipeline isn't an online or signature signing get together...It's people putting themselves on the frontline. Maybe try getting the European Commission involved and the EU court of law.
+3 #5 ASMAA 2017-01-28 18:49
Quoting Jack Reacher:
I am not defending the public consultation or the fact that so many people .


In fact 2588 individual letters where sent as well as two petitions, ASMAA's with 27,000 and another one with about 12,000 ...

you can read the DGRM official reply here: http://asmaa-algarve.org/en/news/what-s-new/dgrm-current-position-on-eni-galp-offshore-drilling-tupem-application
+3 #4 Catrine Danièle 2017-01-28 18:43
and How many did you gather ?
For your information we have a petition signature by hand and l am one of those going out there to get them and then processing them by ourselves cause we want the people protected and you call this lazy ???
+4 #3 liveaboard 2017-01-28 18:28
Quoting Jack Reacher:
I am not defending the public consultation or the fact that so many people signed the petition, but 42,000 signatures signing the same e-letter is hardly a substitute against a directly worded letter or even some kind of publicity event. Hitting 'I agree' and pressing send is lazy keyboard activism. This is an important issue that potentially impacts many of us directly or indirectly so go out there and support all the NGOs and councils that are against oil drilling.


There were paper petitions circulated; tens of thousands of individual pen and ink signatures with ID numbers added.
Including mine of course.

That might not be as flashy as a big protest riot, but it is very legitimate democratic opposition to this farce.
+2 #2 SUSAN SANCHEZ 2017-01-28 16:09
Jack Reacher there have been many events, there have also been letters. The petition was in a particular secure format so that it cannot be signed multiple times and thereby is in an officially recognised form for presentation. If you had been any kind of follower of this campaign or even a reader of newspapers, you would know of the many events all over the area ,so I would suggest you have no natural authority to make such an ill-informed undermining comment.
-4 #1 Jack Reacher 2017-01-28 14:04
I am not defending the public consultation or the fact that so many people signed the petition, but 42,000 signatures signing the same e-letter is hardly a substitute against a directly worded letter or even some kind of publicity event. Hitting 'I agree' and pressing send is lazy keyboard activism. This is an important issue that potentially impacts many of us directly or indirectly so go out there and support all the NGOs and councils that are against oil drilling.

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