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News of illegal oil and gas surveying off Aljezur sweeps across social media

oilAljezurImageA posting on social media by environmental association, Climáximo, has reported that an Italian surveying vessel, the Vos Purpose, has been illegally surveying the sea area off Aljezur where the Galp-ENI energy consortium still has plans to drill a test well next Spring.

Between September 2nd and 9th, according to international maritime traffic records, the Italian vessel left the Port of Sines and made her way to the area where the Aljezur well is to be sunk.

This information contradicts news published in Expresso that the project to sink a test well in the ocean off Aljezur would not happen. Statements by Jorge Seguro Sanches, Secretary of State for Energy, assured the newspaper that the licence for the Aljezur test well had expired.

Climáximo rightly observes that these maritime survey operations are still being undertaken in secret and have not been requested or authorised and are only verifiable through the international maritime traffic records.

Despite the government being obliged to call a halt to oil company exploration activity, it is still pro-oil and has bent over backwards to enable the concession holders to explore for oil and gas, despite public opposition, especially from those along the country’s coastal areas whose income is dependent on tourism.

There are still legal hurdles for the government to tackle, including three injunctions.

The Association of Municipalities of the Algarve, Odemira council and the Algarve Free of Petroleum Platform all have lodged legal cases which have been accepted by the courts and have yet to be heard.

During this legal period of limbo, the legality of Vos Purpose surveying activities is questionable in the absence of specific permission.

Meanwhile, according to Climáximo and anti-oil association, ASMAA, the ultra deepwater drillship, Saipem 12000, hired by the Galp-ENI consortium to drill the Aljezur test well next Spring, already has left Walvis Bay in Namibia and is heading north with a registered destination of the Canary Islands.

Climáximo and the Alentejo Coast for the Environment association are demanding a thorough explanation from the government about the status of the concession contracts and whether or not permission has been given to the consortium for the Voz Purpose to undertake surveying work in Portuguese territorial waters.

With less than a week to go before the local elections and with the oil and gas question struggling to be heard above more domestic local considerations, this illicit surveying question needs some answers.

 The National Entity for Fuel Markets said in response this evening that it had not authorised any oil drilling in the offshore Alentejo Basin, not that it had been accused of this.

The ENMC clarified that "the schedule of the 2017 annual work plan for the offshore Alentejo Basin, authorised by the ENMC, provided for a survey in the second quarter of this year between March and April, lasting about 60 days," but that this is "a step that the concessionaire has not fulfilled."

"No such operations have been carried out within the indicated deadline, any drilling, prospecting and oil research is legally prohibited, and such work is subject to new permits, which has not happened so far," said the ENMC.

This means, he stated in the communiqué, that "any act or attempt to carry out a survey in national waters for the prospection of oil without proper authorisation (...) is always reported as an illegal act, with due consequences.”

According to João Camargo, from Climáximo, the situation raises "many doubts" about "the purpose of the surveys and which companies are doing it, since the ship is not identified as being associated with Eni or to Galp."

"We went to consult the international public maritime traffic register that is available online, and we found the vessel that was registered as conducting surveys out of Sines in the direction of Aljezur," said Camargo.


Ultra deepwater drillship, Saipem 12000,







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+3 #3 Denby 2017-09-27 20:35
Mr Malcolm,
Your comments could be directed at any country !!
Take your pick...
+2 #2 Jack Reacher 2017-09-27 20:34
Portugal is breaking a host of EU laws (2013/30EU) relating to offshore exploration/drilling if the ship sighting report is accurate.
On the back of the Oceans Meeting in Lisbon it's blatantly obvious that the Government are simply a bunch of hypocritical crooks solely interested in lining their pockets with oil cash rather than any notion of sustainable development or environmental protection.
0 #1 Malcolm.H 2017-09-27 19:07
It is such a handicap for Portugal that its attitude to its Police and Legal Authorities is still mired in the 1940's. That they cannot be trusted - as with their Politicians -
most of them are on the take or the make. Or both.
So still impossible is any notion of 'wasting Police time'. With this concept the Police would ask the owners of this boat what it was doing. Anything not adding up would trigger them boarding the Vos Purpose and seizing anyone getting chopsy and anything, like survey data, that looked useful to the injunctions.

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