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Petition launched against oil and gas exploration in the Algarve

oilrigA petition launched by an Algarve organisation against the exploration and extraction of oil and natural gas off the region's coast, planned to commence later this year, has already received more than 4,000 signatures.
"A disaster during oil or gas drilling or extraction will leave our marine flora and fauna vulnerable to the toxic effects" of this process, said the executive director of the Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association (ASMAA), Laurinda Seabra, alerting the regional economy to the many potential negative impacts, particularly in the all important fishing and tourism sectors.

In the petition, the group of 50 volunteers, are appealing to the holders of oil and gas licenses to invest in alternative energy and asks that the Portuguese government renegotiates the contracts.

The ASMAA alerts the public to the risks to the marine ecosystem and highlights the fact that the areas chosen for the drilling have permanent seismic activity which heightens the risk of accidents during drilling for natural gas or oil.

"According to what I have studied there is no direct evidence of hydrocarbons in the Algarve Basin" according to geologist Paulo Fernandes from the University of the Algarve, who added that one of the companies holding an exploration license contacted him last year to access the studies that he had produced.

Laurinda Seabra said the group wants to gather between 30,000 to 100,000 signatures by August 2014 and plans to take the issue to Parliament and the European Commission to insist on an economic, social and environmental impact study on oil and natural gas extraction off the Algarve coastline, to promote public discussion in the Algarve municipalities and to organise a referendum.

Besides the petition, the group aims to raise awareness with various campaigning activity, starting with a series of events to be held in different council areas between 15th and 20th of April 2014. Saebra also has tried to orgainse meetings with the companies holding exploration licenses, to no avail.

Oil exploration in the Algarve already has been challenged with parliamentary questions put by MP Mendes Bota outlining the environmental risks, criticising the lack of financial compensation to the state and the lack of any public discussion.

In 2012 the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries responded to the parliamentary group of the Communist Party saying that the planned exploration will be "beyond 12 nautical miles and between 400 and 600 metres deep in an area not covered by the Natura 2000 network and outside the National Ecological Reserve "and that the scheduled quantities of extraction do not require an Environmental Impact Assessment.”


See: http://tinyurl.com/nxqqrg2

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