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Parliament votes to continue oil and gas exploration concessions

parliamentPortugalPortugal’s parliament voted on Thursday, May 1th, to continue the with highly controversial oil and gas exploration concessions.

For anti-oil group Climáximo, the vote revealed ‘a lack of knowledge and a contempt for the future’ as further exploration concessions can be granted in addition to allowing Galp-ENI free reign to drill an exploratory well off the Aljezur coastline.

The ruling Socialist Party’s MPs, backed by those from the Communist Party, the PSD and CDS, voted against a proposal from the Peoples Animals Nature party and the Left Bloc to scrap the concessions and to concentrate on renewable energy development.

Anti-oil campaign group ASMAA’s head, Laurinda Seabra, said the MPs have voted against the Constitution as they have ignored their local electorates and cites the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states that the “will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.”

With local elections coming up, and council mayors under pressure to declare their own views on oil and gas exploration, the government may face local electoral defeat with the Algarve’s mayors as one behind the scrapping oil and gas exploration.

Odemira council already has lodged an injunction to stop Galp-ENI which has been accepted by the judges as ‘having merit.’ This case will be heard soon and much depends on the independence of the judges as the political heat is turned up in defence of government policy.

The case will be heard soon and with locals well-aware of the arguments, and the cynical dismissal of a 42,000 signature petition collected by ASMAA, the government now is going head on against what the electorate are demanding.

The arguments used by the Socialist administration, ‘that we just want to know what resources are out there’ and the assurance from Galp that it will look after the environment have long been discredited as, in order, illogical and highly unlikely.   

Seabra commented that the vote represented a huge divide in between what people want and what the government is happy to promote on the flimsiest of grounds.

“The population especially in the Algarve and the Alentejo, have spoken out against the exploitation of oil and gas,” says Seabra, yet the State is acting in the best interests of the oil companies, not of those who give it power.