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Galp’s mystery partner for Alentejo oil exploration

oilrigOil giant Galp's chief executive has revealed that the company has "a good partner" with which to proceed with the exploration of oil off the Alentejo coastline next year and is confident that the government will give the green light to the partnership proposal.

Ferreira de Oliveira from Galp said that he had had a lot of interest from potential partners for oil and gas exploration and already has forwarded a proposal to the government.

"We had an offer from what seemed to us a good partner who is not only contributing to the project in economic terms so we can move forward but also one that brings technology and knowledge that complements and strengthens us," said Oliveira.

Exploration blocs already have been defined and licences agreed by the Portuguese government which sees the extraction of oil or gas, or both as a key part of Portugal’s economic resurgence.

In early July 2014 the president of the Spanish oil company Repsol, after a meeting with the President of the Portuguese Republic, said that his company will begin drilling in earnest and exploring for hydrocarbons off the Algarve coast in 2015.

Almargem, the Asssociation for the Defense of the Algarve’s Cultural and Environmental Heritage, sent an official request to the Minister for the Environment demanding that an environmental impact assessment be carried out covering the widespread hydrocarbon exploration activity along the Algarve’s coastline that the government is keen to promote.

The government argues that any oil rigs will be sited offshore and so do not need environmental assessments, nor does hydrocarbon exploration, drilling, extraction or transportation.

The Alentejo and Algarve coastlines are seen by the tourism industry as the jewel in Portugal’s crown and anything that threatens the image of pristine beaches and abundant marine life would be detremental yet no pressure has been put on the government to at least ask those in these areas what they think or to look at the disruption to nature and the environment.

Assurances of oil industry safety standards leading to zero spillage is nonsensical as accident do and have happened leading to the death of sea life and pollution of sea beds and sea shores.

Spain’s Canary Islands have been threatened with drilling by Repsol in their surrounding waters and the residents and local government organised a local referendum, protests in Madrid and a worldwide publicity campaign that has thrown the oil company’s plans into disarray.

The inaction of residents, politicians and businesses in the Algarve and the Alentejo that will be affected by an impending oil or gas industry has led Lisbon to conclude that nobody is interested, or if they are, then it will carry on anyway.

One major survey launched in 2014 with great fanfare, the Gulbenkian Foundation's 'Oceans Initiative' to look into the Algarve’s marine and maritime resources from a sustainability and eco-friendly perspective, has failed to start its work and anyway is indirectly funded by a Cayman Islands based oil company, Partex so hardly likely to come to any balanced conclusions. 

Partex is a minority partner in the Repsol consortium that will be drilling off the Algarve's shore anytime from January 1, 2015.

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