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Algarve gas and oil drilling, "no environmental impact assessment needed"

oilrig"The government will authorise oil or gas drilling off the Algarve by the Spanish Repsol consortium." As a statement, it benefits from brevity and clarity.

"Repsol is leading a consortium with a concession off the Algarve, with the expectation that in fulfillment of contractual obligations it soon will be drilling. Subsequently, the consortium may choose to proceed to the exploitation phase with the Government's permission," according to a statement today from the office of the Secretary of State for Energy.

Last week, environmental organisation Quercus said that there had not even been an environmental impact study for this massive oil and gas exploration project, but the office of the Secretary of State for Energy, Artúr Trindade, has responded that "the activities normally performed during prospecting and exploration stages for hydrocarbons are not subject to a formal environmental impact assessment."

"If the consortium chooses to proceed to the extraction phase, the application of the judicial regime for the impact statement will lead to formal review. Regardless of the formal review, the Government always closely monitors the process, including the associated environmental issues."

"If the economic viability for natural gas exploration is proven, the Government will examine the options that best serve the natural gas market and its consumers, including how to transport it," i.e. the Minister and the Government have made up their minds without the findings of any environmental aspects being taken into account.

In a statement last week, Quercus said it was "very concerned about reports ... that there will be imminent exploitation of natural gas and oil in the Algarve" and warned that "the situation is even worse as an environmental impact assessment was not carried out, nor are any offset measures included to minimise the impact, nor are there action plans in the event of environmental disasters."

In early July, the president of the Spanish multinational Repsol, Antonio Brufau said after a meeting with President of the Republic, that his company will start drilling for natural gas in the Algarve next year.

Junior partner in the consortium, Partex, based for tax avoidance reasons in the Cayman Islands, but adding a necessary Portuguese flavour to the consortium of two, remits all of its profits to the Lisbon-based Gulbenkian Foundation.

This grant giving trust is busying itself with the Oceans Initiative, an environmental study somewhat at odds with drilling for oil and gas, "to improve scientific knowledge and public and political perception of the benefits of marine and coastal ecosystems."

If there is going to be hydrocarbon production off the Algarve's coast, with no environmental aspects taken into account, years of development of the Algarve as a high-quality tourist destination with pristine beaches and undisturbed nature clearly will be at odds with the government's policy of revenue at any cost from a Spanish consortium. This is the concern of highly regarded Quercus, and of many Algarve residents and business owners.


See: http://www.gulbenkian.pt/Institucional/en/Activities/ProgrammesAndProjects/GulbenkianOceansInitiative?a=4369

also: http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3028-quercus-calls-for-algarve-oil-and-gas-impact-assessment


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