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Galp funds research into whale and dolphin numbers

whalehumpbackIn a move of unparalleled cynicism, Galp Energia, one of the concession partners for the Santola hydrocarbon exploration area where test drilling is due to start in October this year, is funding a study into the whale and dolphin population along Portugal’s coastline.

Common whales, the world's second largest whale, dolphins and other cetaceans are to be found in the ocean off the Portuguese west coast but they have yet to be studied and their numbers established.

“We want to clarify that there is a tremendous wealth in terms of cetaceans. Everyone knows that the Azores are an important area but almost nobody knows that the continent is also very important in terms of whales and dolphins," said marine biologist Pedro Finamore, the project manager paid for by Galp who already has stated that he considers economic activities, including oil exploration, compatible with 'the balance of the oceans.'

The initiative applied for support from the Blue Fund, which finances the economy of the sea through the government run, Portugal 2020 programme and was announced at an 'Ocean Talks' event, sponsored by Galp and National Geographic.

The idea, explained Finamore, from the Sagres Research Centre, is to create a map of cetaceans in Portugal, which shows what species are present in Portuguese waters along the mainland coast, how they behave and which area are the most populated. This is data that does not exist and that has enormous scientific, economic and environmental value."

The researcher told Lusa that he plans to develop the project over the next two years along the coast of mainland Portugal up to 25 miles (40 kilometers) offshore, with a team of biologists in collaboration with the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, the City Council of Esposende and the support of two invited researchers from the Statistics and Applications Center of the University of Lisbon.

The researchers, said Pedro Finamore, will systematically navigate the entire Portuguese coastline, divided into four blocks and subject it to a "continuous sweep."

"It's something that has never been never done. There are few studies, local or regional, and usually they have been done during the summer," Finamore said, explaining that the 40 kilometre research limit is extensive enough to include, "the continental shelf slope" where the deep ocean begins and where, "there is a large concentration of biodiversity."

Joana Garoupa, Director of Communication and Marketing at Galp, stated, "Our support for this project is in our strategy of community involvement and development, aligned with our Sustainable Development Goals."

Galp-ENI is starting its test drilling in October, just outside the newly planned whale and dolphin research area, at a point 46 kilometres from the coast at Aljezur on the west coast.

The WWF states that “the oil industry poses three distinct threats to cetaceans: habitat loss, possible hearing damage and pollution. Oil exploration and recovery may exclude cetaceans from valuable habitat and disturb feeding, resting and breeding. Pollutants and toxics from activities relating to the oil industry are also a health risk to cetaceans.”

Oceana says that, “Offshore drilling operations create various forms of pollution that have considerable negative effects on marine and other wildlife. These include drilling muds, brine wastes, deck runoff water and flowline and pipeline leaks. Catastrophic spills and blowouts are also a threat from offshore drilling operations. These operations also pose a threat to human health, especially to oil platform workers themselves.

“Drilling muds and produced water are disposed of daily by offshore rigs. Offshore rigs can dump tons of drilling fluid, metal cuttings, including toxic metals, such as lead chromium and mercury, as well as carcinogens, such as benzene, into the ocean.

“Drilling muds are used for the lubrication and cooling of the drill bit and pipe. The muds also remove the cuttings that come from the bottom of the oil well and help prevent blowouts by acting as a sealant. There are different types of drilling muds used in oil drilling operations, but all release toxic chemicals that can affect marine life. One drilling platform normally drills between seventy and one hundred wells and discharges more than 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluids and metal cuttings into the ocean.

“Produced water is fluid trapped underground and brought up with oil and gas. It makes up about 20 percent of the waste associated with offshore drilling. Produced waters usually have an oil content of 30 to 40 parts per million.”

The government's Blue Fund, “...is aimed at the development of the sea economy, scientific and technological research, marine protection and monitoring and maritime safety, by creating or strengthening mechanisms for financing entities, activities or projects towards these objectives.”

The Fund also works to, “Ensure the good environmental status of the maritime public domain, for the prevention and control of pollution of the marine environment and for the protection or restoration of ecosystems and marine biodiversity."

Galp Energia exists to find and pump as much oil and gas as cheaply as possible. The conscesssion it shares with ENI, has been exempted by government from having to produce an Environmental Impact Assessment and, when its drilling activities have had their effect on cetaceans, may expect a report in a couple of years time showing that not many whales and dolphins live in its concession area, hence its activities were harmless.

At the launch of the initiative, a PR coup for the company, Galp also fielded the renowned National Geographic Society's oceanographer Sylvia Earle.  The 83-year-old sees no conflict between economic activities, such as oil exploration, and the preservation of the oceans.

"It is a choice for every company - as any citizen - to take measures to nullify the impact of its activities on nature," said Earle, stressing that it is thanks to the instruments developed by the oil industry that we now know much of what we know about the oceans.

"In the end it depends on how we want to be seen by our grandchildren in 30 or 40 years, when they ask us what we did for the defence of the planet.”

A National Geographic 'explorer in residence,' Earle said in 2010 when commenteing on the dangers of offshore drilling after the Gulf of Mexico BP disaster, "Now we know that the risk, however small, is not worth the tradeoff."

The research project contribution form Galp is €110,000, Earle's fee was not disclosed at the 'Ocean Talks' event, sponsored by Galp and National Geographic.

 

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Comments  

+1 #28 Fonseca 2018-06-19 13:03
Quoting Bruno Geirinhas:
Quoting Chip:
Says it all for me.
Well, your comment also says it all for me. We're looking at ways to develop our resources in a sustainable way, not to go back to the wild. If that is really what you believe in, you may as well start by throwing away your computer.

Sustainable - oil? C'mon...
+1 #27 Peter Beale 2018-06-19 13:01
Quoting Bruno Geirinhas:
Quoting TerryP:
[quote name="Daniel Jason"][quote name="dw"].


That is just a bunch of lies! Galp is headquartered in the Netherlands??? That is totally ridiculous! If Galp and ENI sell the oil to the international market that will count as portuguese exports, just like the Volkswagens built in Palmela are Portuguese exports. Each barrel headed for Sines will be one less barrel imported from Russia or Nigeria.


The Galp part of the Santola concession deal was signed by Galp in Portugal. ENI Portugal BV from the Netherlands signed its part of the deal. Galp has a company in the Netherlands since 2011: Galp Energia Netherland
s B.V which may be the same as:
Galp Energia E. & P. BV
Weena 290/GEB-WEENA-
3012 NJ ROTTERDAM

as the miserable rate of royalties are not payable 'until after all costs have been recovered' it will be interesting to see what inter-company payments are made to reduce the consortium's tax liability.

The consortium has no better of worse record than any other oil company, all are exposed to human error - BP did not want the Gulf of Mexico disaster to happen, but it still did.

In my opinion, strategically this oil development thrust is foolish, late in the day and dangerous - but then I am not even Portuguese...
-1 #26 Bruno Geirinhas 2018-06-19 09:50
Quoting TerryP:
Quoting Daniel Jason:
Quoting dw:
I suspect our new commenter is another corporate troll".


Yeah, well, perhaps I suspect your are just another paid-for agent of EDP renewables and the Chinese government, as well as of Russia, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and all the other democratic, transparent and law abiding nations - not to mention environmentally immaculate - that hope we will continue to enrich them for decades by buying their oil instead of at least checking to see if we could be producing our own energy in immensely more environmentally controlled ways. But just in case you are genuine, can you explain to me how you move around without oil? Or howe you propose to bring energy to the roughly one billion folks out there who still have no access to electricity?
This is the misconception, "producing our own energy" any oil or gas reserves are not Portugal's they are owned by Galp (based in Amsterdam) and ENI (Italian) and will be imported at the international barrel price.

Portugal has signed over its reserves in a crap royalty deal - this is what half the argument is about.


That is just a bunch of lies! Galp is headquartered in the Netherlands??? That is totally ridiculous! If Galp and ENI sell the oil to the international market that will count as portuguese exports, just like the Volkswagens built in Palmela are Portuguese exports. Each barrel headed for Sines will be one less barrel imported from Russia or Nigeria.
0 #25 William Mason 2018-06-19 09:39
Quoting Terry P:
Quoting Daniel Jason:
Why bother with the facts and the scientific knowledge, it’s much more creative to discuss these themes unbounded by the constraints of reality. It really scares me to see how easily and lightly some of these people throw around accusations of corruption on serious people who devote their lives to science. Do you know slander is a crime?
Not corruption, just an moral-free indifference from the scientists to taking money from an oil company keen to bluewash itself. If he doesn't see this dichotomy, then we can expect a report showing that oil and gas exploration and drilling is wonderful news for the marine world.

As for the American woman, she needs to make her mind, not hold two opposing points of view on offshore oil drilling.

Galp's move is the same as Gulbenkian funding its Blue research into the marine world while itself being funded by Partex Oil and Gas which at the time has a huge concession area with Repsol, off the Algarve.

Finamore is a minnow in a huge sea of corruption and influence peddling in a dying industry.

If these scientists really can't see what is happening here, God help us all.


I thought this supposedly moral superiority was the preserve of fundamentalist, right-wing christian fringes who so easily impose moral judgements on others - even on people they have never met.
-1 #24 Bruno Geirinhas 2018-06-19 09:27
Quoting Chip:
Says it all for me.
Well, your comment also says it all for me. We're looking at ways to develop our resources in a sustainable way, not to go back to the wild. If that is really what you believe in, you may as well start by throwing away your computer.
+1 #23 TerryP 2018-06-19 08:36
Quoting Daniel Jason:
Quoting dw:
I suspect our new commenter is another corporate troll".


Yeah, well, perhaps I suspect your are just another paid-for agent of EDP renewables and the Chinese government, as well as of Russia, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and all the other democratic, transparent and law abiding nations - not to mention environmentally immaculate - that hope we will continue to enrich them for decades by buying their oil instead of at least checking to see if we could be producing our own energy in immensely more environmentally controlled ways. But just in case you are genuine, can you explain to me how you move around without oil? Or howe you propose to bring energy to the roughly one billion folks out there who still have no access to electricity?
This is the misconception, "producing our own energy" any oil or gas reserves are not Portugal's they are owned by Galp (based in Amsterdam) and ENI (Italian) and will be imported at the international barrel price.

Portugal has signed over its reserves in a crap royalty deal - this is what half the argument is about.
+1 #22 Bruno Geirinhas 2018-06-19 08:35
Quoting Peter Benett:
Replying to Bruno's comment...

The IEC tax is added to bills and then not passed on by EDP to the government. VAT at 23% is added, DGEG funding contribution is added, the CMEC payment is hidden in the electricity consumption figure.
The Portugal News states "One of the major reasons for Portugal being so close to the top when it comes to energy costs, is the fact that taxes here are the third highest anywhere in Europe." 52% is added in various taxes. The government's taxation policy is the reason for high energy prices.

Is is good that solar panel prices have dropped, more can be used to create clean energy.

As for the 'not even Portuguese' comment, seriously...?


... and what do you think pays for those expensive solar panels in Moura? Taxes in electricity bills that makes them porbographically expensive. That is another point, all these decisions cost money and in the end it is, the Portuguese, who end up paying for them either as consumers or taxpayers.
0 #21 Bruno Geirinhas 2018-06-19 08:30
Quoting João Araújo:
[quote name="Bruno Geirinhas"][quote name="Peter Benett"] I say we, but I am guessiong by your name that you are not even Portuguese, are you?
I am Portuguese and welcome views from our foreign residents.[/quoote]

Of course everyone is welcome to have their say. What I do not support is immediately labeling someone who doesn’t sage our opinion as a corrupt person, a company troll or someone paid for by big oil. And of course there is no question as to the importance of a as fast as possible transition to clean energy. Everyone with a brain supports that! The point is that we wont be able do away with oil completely for many years to come and our choice for at least a few more decades is whether to produce it or to buy it from provenly corrupt regimes in much more harmful ways. And that is a choice that for the Portuguese - yes, really! - to make!
+2 #20 João Araújo 2018-06-18 15:22
Quoting Bruno Geirinhas:
[quote name="Peter Benett"] I say we, but I am guessiong by your name that you are not even Portuguese, are you?


Can not all people have a say without being a Portuguese person? I think this blog is very good to see what non-Portuguese residents think.

My view is oil and gas are dying industry and government should encourage renewable growth, not support in obvious ways the Galp and ENI business which risks marine environments.

I am Portuguese and welcome views from our foreign residents.
+2 #19 Chip 2018-06-18 15:15
"Pedro Finamore, the project manager paid for by Galp who already has stated that he considers economic activities, including oil exploration, compatible with 'the balance of the oceans.' "

Says it all for me.

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