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Algarve oil exploration fight begins

oiltankerAt long last, amid media pressure urging people to question the governements’ desire to establish oil drilling off the Algarve and Alentejo coastlines, a group of environmental associations and supporters have joined hands to create 'Plataforma Algarve Livre de Petróleo,' or PALP, as an acronym.

PALP has a simple to remember main objective - "to defend the Algarve as a sustainable region by opposing local oil exploration."

The members of this group are Glocal-Faro, Movimento Algarve Livre de Petróleo, Almargem, SPEA, the Peace & Art Society and finally, News Loop.

In an inaugural statement today, these bodies jointly announced the creation of PALP and stressed that the initiative is open to all who wish to join and defend the Algarve region from oil exploration along its coastline.

PALP want to warn people as to "the risks inherent in oil and gas exploration off the Algarve coast," and recognise that the press have been reporting the situation for a while including recent coverage of the first wells to be drilled which are planned for later this year.

The new group regognises that the decision to allow drilling was a political one taken in Lisbon and not based on any sort of local Algarvean view or comment, leaving the region’s residents on the fringe of a process that “will definitively affect their lives.”

"There was no public debate on the consequences for the region of a decision of this nature, nor are there Environmental Impact Assessments. Nothing is known of the contract between the state and oil exploration companies. The secrecy from the government, and the regional and local government silence on this major subject is deafening," states the platform.

PALP is to ask the presidents of all 16 Algarve councils for "clarification of all decisions already taken for hydrocarbon exploration in the Algarve" and "for details of the exploration contract between the state and the oil companies."

The new platform may have taken a while to get together but hopefully now will ask the right questions of the right people with sea-based oil drilling viewed as totally incompatible with the Algarve’s recognised role as a tourism region earning the exchequer huge sums in invisible exports.

PALP also states that the drilling is "high risk" because wells are to be dug "in a seismic high hazard zone," and warned of the consequences of a possible accidental oil spill on the coast which would represent a huge loss to local industries including to tourism, aquaculture and salt production alongside woldwide media exposure.

After Repsol’s announcement last July that drilling would start in 2015, Quercus challenged the lack of government insistence for at least the basic measure of an environmental impact study and for a list of measure to be taken to minimize the impacts on the Algarve in case of spillage. Response to date has been zero.

The chief executive of Galp said in March this year that the first deep water oil well to be sunk off the Alentejo coast will be started this autumn or early in 2016.

Lagos based eco-campaign organisation ASMAA set up an online petition objecting to oil local exploration with 6,494 signatories to date.

The new PALP platform includes those organisations which rightly should object to this Lisbon-based initiative that pays zero regard to the Algarve which still is treated with distain despite being a cash cow for the government.

See also

The ASMAA stance and petition is at this link:


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