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PALP issues clarification on 'oil drilling suspension' agreement

oilrigOn the 2nd of May 2017, PALP (Platform for an Algarve free of Oil) took the initiative of filling an Injunctive Relief against the Sea Ministry and the Galp-ENI  consortium. This process was suspended for 3 months, by court decision, on 23rd of February.

In practical terms, the Injunctive Relief process stops Galp-ENI from starting any work, either preparatory or prospecting, in the concession area off Aljezur.

 

As this information has raised some wrong interpretations, PALP provides some clarification regarding this legal process.

To make it clear, and without prejudice to the arguments used in the Injunctive Relief, the mere acceptance of an Injunctive Relief process by the court results, among other things, in the suspension of the administrative act  - in this case,  the license to use the sea space (TUPEM).

This means, in practical terms, that this Injunctive Relief while in process through the court, stops the Galp-ENI consortium from starting  any work. 

This Injunctive Relief was based on several arguments, among others, the violation of community rights, the wrong transposition of community directives, the absence of the Evaluation of Environmental Impact (AIA) and the threat to  biodiversity that  may be harmed  by exploration and drilling.   

In the meantime, since lodging this Injunctive Relief, much has happened that might impact the court process,  namely new legislation which means the views of local municipalities must be heard regarding the work plans of the oil drilling companies (1) as well as legislation which requires the submission of an Evaluation of Environmental Impacts of drilling, eploration and extraction operations for hydrocarbons.(2)

As it is common knowledge, the Galp-ENI consortium has asked for an extension to the deadline of their concession for another year (3).

This extension was granted by the Secretary of State for  Energy, but, contrary to what happened previously, this time there were conditions attached:  the work plan has to be approved, a copy of the insurance policy has to be presented, a security deposit of €20.375.500 is required and, quoting the office of the Secretary of State, it will not grant the extension until the environmental impact document has been evaluated and approved.  

All that has happened, legally or factually, after the filling of the Injunctive Relief by PALP, constitutes, what in law is referred to as “supervenient facts”, which are facts that occurred after the entering of the Injunctive Relief and which have, as far as PALP understands, juridical relevance for the court's eventaul decision.

PALP presented these new facts to the Administrative and Fiscal Court of Loulé. Informing the Court of the request by GALP for the extension of the deadline and the answer from the Secretary of State and, having confirmed, that though obligatory, the evaluation of the Environmental Impact can be waived, PALP has reinforced the request that it must not be waved. 

Because these new facts are still in course, the parties in the process decided on a suspension of the process for the period of three months.

However, contrary to what has been wrongly expressed by some media, this three mont suspension does not change the extension of the deadline of the contract for exploration and extraction. The prorogation granted by the Secretary of State, if all the conditions imposed are fulfilled, ends the contract in January 2019. This is so, with or without the suspension of the PALP court process.

In the same way, this suspension of the Injunctive Relief  process does not implicate in any way the extension of the License (TUPEM)  Nº 015/001/2017 issued by the DGRM, the validity of which is to 10th of January 2019 (4).

Note, that this License, would allow the Galp-ENI consortium to start "prospecting for oil in the deep offshore in the Alentejo basin" which PALP has been opposing from the veryt start.

As it happened since the first Injunctive Relief was filled in 2016 by AMAL, all deadlines still end on the dates defined and, to be extended, a new administrative act would be needed.

The objective of PALP has been, is and will continue to be the termination of all concession contracts in Portugal's sea areas, for exploring for and extracting hydrocarbons. 

PALP

Ana Matias - 915684976

Manuel Vieira - 91691179

1 Lei n.º 82/2017, de 18 de agosto

2 Lei n.º 37/2017, de 2 de junho                                                       

3 http://www.jornaldenegocios.pt/empresas/energia/detalhe/governo-da-mais-um-ano-a-galp-para-encontrar-petroleo-no-mar-doalentejo

4 http://www.jornaldenegocios.pt/empresas/energia/detalhe/governo-da-mais-um-ano-a-galp-para-encontrar-petroleo-no-mar-doalentejo