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Greens say Algarve oil exploration "in no way represents the public interest"

riaformosaThe Greens have met one of the anti-oil campaign groups battling to save the Algarve from becoming an oil production zone and has concluded that in no way do the contracts, signed by the government with several oil companies, represent the public interest.

Members of the Greens met the Platform for an oil-free Algarve (Palp) in Loulé to go through the contracts covering the exploration and extraction of oil in the sea close the Algarve's shore and across the region's territory.

The leader of the Greens, Joaquim Correia, said the fruitful sharing of ideas has been useful, and that "exploration and exploitation contracts with the consortia were analysed, the conclusion is that they do not defend the public interest."

Correia also confirmed that there are no environmental studies and that as the State would receive less than 10% of any profits, "the deal can not in any way be said to represent the public interest," a view endorsed by anti-oil campigners ASMAA which points to royalty rates starting at just 10 cents a barrel, "after all costs have been recovered'" should oil start to be pumped.

The Greens said that in the light of the Paris 2015 agreements, Portugal "needs to change its energy paradigm and to make a commitment to renewable energies instead of granting licenses for exploration and exploitation of fuels that contribute to the increase in carbon emissions in the atmosphere and which exacerbate the greenhouse effect."

Joaquim Correia pointed to solar energy as a renewable that can be exploited in Portugal, adding that improvements in public transport, especially the railway, would reduce the country’s fuel bill.

Subsequent to a feisty meeting last week when Paulo Carmona from the government’s fuel authority ENMC faced a vociferous crowd of delegates at a public meeting in Faro, the Prime Minister said in parliament that the government was fully behind the oil exploration programme as he wanted to know what reserves existed, trusting the oil companies to handle the process with care.

The Algarve mayors’ association, AMAL, has declared its members anti-oil and want a region of clean energy and a strong tourism sector.

Those against the development of the Algarve as an oil production zone point to environmental, economic and social costs as an oil industry would put at risk agriculture, fishing, tourism and human health which they see as more than enough reason to stop further activity.

The government’s catch all phrase, “in the national interest” as a justification could be recast as ‘in investors’ interests’ as the government is on a low royalty rate and does not own any of the oil companies that might profit.

It is unsurprising that the Greens, aka the Ecology Party, have joined the anti-oil fight but their additional weight will help put pressure on the government to rethink its choice of backing the oil companies for negligible gain and putting at risk the Algarve’s reputation for pristine beaches, fresh fish and clean air.

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