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Algarve mayors remain anti-oil - even after 'explanation' from Lisbon

oilonshorerigThe Algarve’s mayors have remained as one in defence of the Algarve as a ‘zero oil’ region.

The mayors group AMAL today reiterated its protest against oil and gas exploration in the region and promised to do everything possible to reverse the dodgy exploration licenses already granted under the previous government.

The head of the National Authority for the Fuel Market, Paulo Carmona, met the mayors today but his arguments failed to sway the group which now is fully aware that the region has been sold up the proverbial river with suspiciously generous contracts granted and sweetheart deals arranged with selected oil companies. 

"We disagree with the oil exploration model in the Algarve, we want a region of clean energy and an all-year-round strong tourism sector," said AMAL’s chairman, Tavira mayor Jorge Botelho, in a laudable statement after the two hour meeting.

In turn, Paulo Carmona, said that there will be no hydrocarbon extraction in Portugal before 2020, even if something was found in the next year.

Carmona added that if environmental impact assessments are negative, the exploration will not develop into extraction.

This last comment was particularly duplicitous as there has been an impact assessment exemption for exploration drilling and, should oil be extracted, the environmental report will be paid for by the oil companies and assessed by the same government body as granted the licence.

"There are no plans to use Fracking or other unconventional method in the Algarve", assured Carmona, but he was on loser as the mayors have sided with their voters who, now well aware that any oil or gas royalties will circumvent the region and go straight to Lisbon, are in fighting mode to protect the region’s natural landscape, tourism industry and water resources should Fracking be used, which inevitably it will.

Carmona’s bland assurance that the exploration contracts were ‘just to see if there is oil’ illustrated one of his main problems, that of treating people like idiots and expecting them to bow down before the might of the state.

The meeting had been requested by the Algarve mayors who wanted clarification on the two onshore exploration contracts covering 14 of the 16 municipalities in the Algarve.

These contracts had been granted and signed in secret without Carmona asking for any input from the mayors or local people, with Carmona earlier this week claiming that his organisation had been ‘transparent,’ when clearly it had been sneaky.

Anti-oil protestors had gathered outside the meeting place today as inside, the mayors were treated to a long overdue explanation of the licensing process and assurances that if the environmental impact assessments said ‘no’ then the oil companies would be prevented from extracting oil.

Nobody believes this as time and time again the government has abused this environmental impact study process and ignored serious risks and local complaint while granting building development licenses in places like Praia Grande, Salgados.

Jorge Botelho said the mayors were updated on the technical aspects of the oil licensing process but remained adamant that the Algarve’s direction is one of clean energy, a strong tourist industry and, above all, a region with a future based on sustainability and development.

AMAL will stick to its original aim to "use all means at its disposal to try to reverse this (oil exploration) process."

Carmona, having failed to persuade the mayors that there is anything in it for the Algarve, next takes his attempt at a charm offensive to the University of the Algarve on January 12th at a public meeting.

Carmona's position is not a good one as by sidestepping local involvement and signing away the Algarve’s rights and opportunity of self-determination, he represents a government that was intent on turning the region into an oil field both on and off shore.

 

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Comments  

0 #8 Daphne 2015-12-20 19:53
Cynics would suggest that any bungs so far have been done at a national level by the fracking companes. Not enough has filtered down to the local mayors and municipal officers.

Once these are greased also will these types still be so 'anti-fracking'? Will we then be hearing how much the franking investments and jobs will help rejuvenate small business, the hospitals, schools and roads ?

And if someones living room slumps a bit by the fireplace or bore hole becomes polluted ... just live with it!
0 #7 thoughtoftheday 2015-12-20 12:08
It's time the Algarve, possibly including the Alentejo became a separate country - they are self sufficient , airports, good road links, hospitals etc and have nothing in common with the greedy self serving Portuguese Lisbon-Porto based population.
Time to do it before the greedy government strip mines, fracks and steals all of the other natural resources leaving a barren dessert and abandoned people behind
+2 #6 Ed 2015-12-20 07:53
Quoting ASMAA:
Only 8 of the mayors attended the AMAL meeting.
The decision by AMAL stands as a breakthrough in local governance.

Some mayors' areas are not affected by the current exploration licences and others not attending have de facto voted for the return of the region to the people and for an oil-free future
0 #5 ASMAA 2015-12-20 06:39
Only 8 of the mayors attended the AMAL meeting.

Aljezur, Faro and Tavira mayors very outspoken on their stance against the oil when leaving the meeting on Friday the 16 Dec and they welcomed the population support, while the Vila do Bispo mayor did not want to speak to the anti-oil campaigners outside.
+3 #4 ASMAA 2015-12-20 06:35
Carmona renames hydraulic fracturing or fracking to "hydraulic stimulation" (estimulacao hidraulica) :-)
+4 #3 JB 2015-12-19 14:58
Bravo mayors! At last they have stood up and represented their voters. Carmino has behaved poorly as he knows that if the issues are discussed fully, nobody in their right minds would think the Algarve is a sensible place for oil and gas extraction. It is a tourist venue. Anything that threatens that is to be resisted with force and vigour.
Bravo!
+9 #2 Annie 2015-12-19 09:29
Well done the mayors, stick with this as the risks to tourism are too great.

If as a result of an oil 'incident' or widespread drilling and Fracking, tourism drops just 10% the affects will be horrendous, if it dropped 25% the Algarve may never recover as it is.

Lisbon has again treated this Algarve area as a cash cow with zero regard for its population or natural beauty.
+10 #1 David B 2015-12-19 09:25
This is brilliant news. Although the mayors do not completely control the Algarve, their stance on this issue is very welcome indeed and sends a clear signal that , as Ed says, the Algarve has been 'sold up the river' - yet again. If the government say it is 'in the public interest' that there is a local oil industry - onshore or offshore - the rejoinder it that it is in the public interest to follow Paris 202 and invest in solar, wave and wind power, and an ethanol plant to turn carobs into fuel, and leave the Algarve as a tourist destination, one of the best in the world.

Government members - paid for by you and me - have behaved like arrogant shits by signing the most crooked deal ever and expecting noone to spot the corruption involved. Add to this the cynical use of the Algarve's land an an expendable territory which Lisbon has always 'despised' and it is little wonder that public opinion and the mayors at last have started to rebel. Força!

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