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Algarve anti-oil fight - “environmental NGO’s are all funded by oil industry”

oilblocsalgarvePossibly the most electric meeting since the Algarve woke up to the fact that it has been sold off for oil exploration heard the reason why Portugal’s environmental NGOs have been thin on the ground - if not practically non-existent - in the growing anti-oil lobby.

SPEA, the country’s leading bird protection society, and Quercus, Portugal’s longest-running eco-group, both either receive funding or in-kind support from the oil industry, anti-oil campaigner Laurinda Seabra told a packed hall at Vila do Bispo’s Bombeiros fire station last night.

“It is very difficult for civil associations to be independent of these people,” she explained - adding that information she was giving was all freely available via government newspaper, Diário da República.

Quercus, she claimed, is “controlled by the Gulbenkian Foundation, which owns oil company Partex, which has a close relationship with SPEA”.

The tangled web of oil industry “infiltration”, as Seabra termed it, has caught up academics and “screwed scientific arguments” to the point that no-one can trust information presented.

Seabra’s tough-talking added yet more fuel to the fire of local opposition to onshore oil concessions, awarded by the last government without any consultation with either local residents or their representatives.

Vila do Bispo Mayor Adelino Soares - the first mayor to stand up and say ‘no’ to the prospect of oil drilling on his patch - stressed it was “shameful” that areas of outstanding natural beauty could be threatened without anyone having been previously informed.

“We need to safeguard what we have in this borough that is best, and that is our Nature,” he told the audience packed with an assortment of local Portuguese fishermen and business people of all nationalities, as well as many local householders.

Starting at 8.30pm on what was a weekday night, every seat was taken in the large hall with at least another hundred people standing - many of them lasting the four intense hours of presentations and open debate.

Soares explained one of the purposes of the meeting was to try and understand the oil industry’s point of view.

“The big question is do we want this in the Algarve, in our country,” he asked.

And to this end, Dr Rui Penedo dos Reis, a geologist working with Coimbra University and presented as representing Portfuel - the company which holds onshore prospection licences for 14 boroughs of the Algarve - took the floor.

What was most revealing is that Reis took well over half-an-hour to describe the “unoffensive”, “non-destructive”, “uninvasive”, “unperturbing for landscape, subsoil or animals” nature of research, leaving the final section “risks” to the last moments.

As his slide-show arrived at the point subtitled “risks”, Reis - possibly without appreciating the irony - said: “We are running out of time.”

Questions from the floor on the dangers associated with fracking were dodged with the expertise of a politician, and it was up to representatives from ASMAA and PALP - the region’s anti-oil campaigns - to highlight what they called the proven risks of earthquakes and underground water contamination.

Slides were shown of dead cattle that had been poisoned by streams contaminated by fracking in America (ASMAA), while PALP spoke of whales being slowly killed by sound waves emanating from offshore prospection techniques.

The next round in this citizens battle will come on Friday morning in Faro at 10.30am, when ASMAA, PALP and as many people that can get time off work plan to attend the meeting between AMAL - the association of borough councils - and ENMC, the government authority that has overseen what is effectively Portugal’s “oil free for all”.

As we left the meeting at half-past midnight last night, Laurinda Seabra was trying to organise municipal buses from Vila do Bispo to take people to Faro… “AMAL needs our support,” she said.

But as Vila do Bispo mobilised, over the sea in UK the British government decided to authorise fracking under national parks and other protected sites.

In other words, “the Nature argument”, along with all the others, seems to have stood for very little.



see also, ASMAAA




Reproduced courtesy of the Portugal Resident






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+2 #1 Malcolm.H 2015-12-20 08:16
We must hope that, for a awhile, the low price of crude will stop fracking investment. But we must bbe clear that there is a whole world of difference between the supervision of the British fracking and the Portuguese.

Not least that the whole process has been above board and public. And the fracking companies in the UK are well aware that they will be liable to make good any damage. Not just in theory but in fact. That there are an army of amateurs nearby well able to test water quality and who have no worries about alerting the government specialists. Who must act.

And Here ?

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