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Quercus calls for Algarve oil and gas impact assessment

oilrigEco-campaigners and guardians of Portugal’s natural heritage, Quercus, has called for a full Environmental Impact Study covering oil and gas drilling off Portugal's coastline, specifically the Algarve's.

A very concerned National Association for Nature Conservation – Quercus - points out that the oil companies’ activities "may endanger the natural heritage and the future of Algarve tourism” as drilling is planned for eight kilometres off the Algarve’s coast and it is due to start soon.

Outlining a scenario in which much of the Algarve’s population, councils, tourist organisations and business community appear unaware or unconcerned at the potential downside or the oil business, Quercus has made its position known and asked questions about the impact on the Algarve should something go wrong.

When the exploration contracts were signed in 2011 the government said that as the blocs were offshore, no Environmental Impact Study need be undertaken despite licensing drilling zones opposite the Ria Formosa Natural Park and the Marshland Nature Reserve of Castro Marim.

The consortium formed by Repsol and Partex has felt it unnecessary to engage with local media, interest groups of individuals.

Partex is a fully owned subsidiary of the Gulbenkian Foundation whose communications department chief Elizabete Carmelo has stonewalled media enquiries concerning Gulbenkian's relationship with Partex and its sponsorship of the Oceans Initiative, a scientific investigation into the Algarve's maritme assets and oppotunities, somewhat at odds with drilling for oil or gas.

Quercus points out that the Algarve is woefully unprepared to combat any accidental discharge from hydrocarbon extraction, "this situation is even worse when you know that an environmental impact assessment was not carried out.”

Quercus also noted that "the impact of any accident occurring in an area of this kind, even occasionally, irreversibly will affect unique and fragile ecosystems as well as several species, including seabirds, whales and dolphins."

The association says that the Algarve coast "is not adequately protected in case of oil spill and, in the event of an oil spill similar to that in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, the consequences would be catastrophic for millions of people and for the future of the Algarve, as all of the Algarve coastline would be affected for many years.”

Should this hydrocarbon project proceed in the Algarve, Quercus considers that “it will be clearly contradictory to the development model followed over the last decades in the region which is largely based on a quality tourism with nature and landscape."

Earlier this month, the president of the Spanish multinational Repsol, Antonio Brufau said after a meeting with President of the Republic that his company will begin drilling and exploring for natural gas in the Algarve next year.



See also: http://www.algarvedailynews.com/features/environment/2916-oil-drilling-in-the-algarve-in-2015-confirmed




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